Joe Francis Gets Community Service for 2257 Violations

Michael Hayes
PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Joe Francis, the man behind Mantra Entertainment’s Girls Gone Wild Empire, will get community service for his role in violating 18 U.S.C. § 2257, the federal record-keeping law designed to keep adult content producers from using underage performers. Francis and his company entered guilty pleas in a Los Angeles U.S. District Court and Panama City, Fla. in September.

U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak told Francis he added community service to the sentence because he didn’t think a fine would be a meaningful punishment.

Under the terms of the September plea bargain, which covers multiple jurisdictions, Mantra Films entered a guilty plea to 10 felony counts stemming from federal-record keeping violations and agreed to pay $1.6 million in fines. MRA Holdings entered a deferred prosecution agreement at the same time and agreed to employ an independent monitor selected by the government to insure that Francis and his operations keep with their promise to comply with 2257 going forward.

Francis also was required to pay $500,000 out of his own pocket.

Smoak said the fine represents less than 3 percent of Mantra’s profits since 2002, and only 12 percent of Mantra’s 2005 profits. The judge based his figures on Francis making an estimated $40 million per year.

“It does not take a very brave man to go out and corner a girl in the middle of spring break who had four drinks,” Smoak told Francis before tacking on the community service sentence.

Francis, the company’s president, chief financial officer and general counsel were each ordered to perform eight hours of community service per month for the next 30 months. However, according to Smoak, Francis could take the onus upon himself by “stepping up” and serving 16 hours per month, which would relieve the others of their obligations.

Smoak also ordered the company to issue a press release about its federal offenses and to publish the release in the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today and The News Herald of Panama City.

In court papers, the company admitted to filming performers and producing and distributing sexually explicit content during all of 2002 and part of 2003 in violation of federal record-keeping laws.

According to Francis, who was ordered to read a victim’s impact statement at sentencing, the 17-year-old girls who appeared in the films, lied about their age.

Francis will next appear in a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles Jan. 22 , where Judge Margaret Morrow will formally enter a sentence against the producer in the Los Angeles portion of the multiple jurisdiction case.

When Francis entered his plea in front of Morrow in September, the judge explained to him that he could have received up to 10 years in prison. Francis told the court at the time that no minors would ever appear in a Mantra film again.