Joe Francis Indicted on Tax Evasion Charges

Anne Winter
RENO, Nev. — "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis was charged with tax evasion today, having deducted more than $20 million in apparent false business expenses on his 2002 and 2003 tax returns.

According to the indictment, Francis used offshore bank accounts to hide income made during those two years. He used a Cayman Islands corporation, which Francis controlled, to transfer more than $15 million of his secret money into his Irvine, Calif., account.

Francis faces up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000 if convicted.

He is scheduled to appear in Reno, Nev., court May 22.

The indictment follows Francis' Tuesday arrest in Panama City, Fla., where a judge had ordered him jailed until talks to settle a civil lawsuit are completed.