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Joe Francis Tax Case: Girls Gone Wild Founder Gets Plea Deal

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By Kamika Dunlap on November 10, 2009 2:00 PM

Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis was sentenced to 301 days already served and a year of probation for filing false income tax returns.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a judge accepted a plea deal between the soft porn mogul and prosecutors, who struck the agreement after learning on the eve of trial that a key witness had withheld information from them.

Under the deal, Francis pleaded guilty in September to two misdemeanor counts of filing false tax returns and one count of bribing Nevada jail workers with goods in exchange for food.

Francis is also required Francis to pay $250,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service under the plea deal.

He acknowledged omitting more than $500,000 in interest income on his 2003 tax returns.

"It took us seven months, but in the end we demonstrated that the felony tax charges never should have been brought in the first place," Brad Brian, Francis' lead trial attorney, said in a statement.

The soft-porn mogul who filmed and marketed videos of young women was indicted by a federal grand jury on tax evasion charges in 2007. He initially was accused of taking $20 million in fraudulent tax deductions.

The feds' Joe Francis tax case fell apart when prosecutors found out about hundreds of email messages were sent to Francis' former accountant Michael Barret in which Francis accused him of fraudulently billing him for hundreds of thousands of dollars in phony services and expenses.

Barrett's credibility as a witness was further damaged when he sought a reward from the IRS for exposing alleged wrongdoing by Francis.

U.S. District Judge S. James Otero did not restrict Francis' travel but said he must inform authorities if he intended to travel abroad.

Francis promised to stay out of trouble and get back to work building the "Girls Gone Wild" brand in the U.S. and abroad.