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Joe Francis Pleads No Contest in Florida

GGW founder sentenced to time served, but still faces tax evasion charges in Reno
Joe Francis Pleads No Contest in Florida
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Mar 12, 2008 2:00 PM PDT    Text size: 
PANAMA CITY, Fla. — "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis pleaded no contest today to child abuse and prostitution charges in Panama City.

Judge Deede Costello sentenced Francis to 339 days in jail, but gave him credit for the last year he has spent in jail in Bay County, Fla., and in Reno, Nev.

Bay County also will return Francis' Ferrari and $60,000 that was confiscated from him last year, website TMZ.com reported.

Francis entered the no-contest pleas to settle the case that began when "Girls Gone Wild" videotaped underage girls in 2003. Francis' lawyers had contended that the girls lied about their ages to an independent camera operator, and that none of the footage was used.

The action resolves the Florida criminal cases pending against Francis and allows him to remain out of jail on bond — pending a federal tax evasion trial in Nevada set for August.

"I am happy to be done with Bay County," Francis told TMZ.com.

TMZ reported that Francis will be on six months' nonreporting probation, and "Girls Gone Wild" is barred from shooting in the area for three years.

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