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Next stop for Joe Francis: Reno

Next stop for Joe Francis: Reno
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May 12, 2007 12:01 PM PDT    Text size: 
PANAMA CITY, Fla. — "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis will be sent to Nevada to face tax evasion charges after he finishes his 35-day sentence in a Florida jail for contempt of court.

On Thursday, Federal Magistrate Judge Larry Bodiford ruled that Francis' tax evasion charges in Reno, Nev., took precedence over the charges of sexual battery he's facing in Florida. Court dates for the two hearings clashed on May 22.

Florida authorities wanted to keep Francis in custody until a trial for the sexual battery charges could begin, but he will go to Nevada to face charges filed in April accusing him of deducting more than $20 million in false business expenses on his companies' 2002 and 2003 corporate income tax returns.

The indictment claims Francis used offshore bank accounts and entities purportedly owned by others to conceal income he earned during 2002 and 2003.

If convicted, Francis could be sentenced to as much as 10 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000.

Francis is also facing a misdemeanor charge for sexual battery after a January incident at a birthday party in Hollywood, Calif., where he is accused of touching an 18-year-old woman's breast, buttocks and inner thigh at least 10 times, despite being asked repeatedly to stop.

Francis faces six months in jail and a $2,000 fine if found guilty of the sexual battery.

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