WASHINGTON - A federal grand jury in Reno, Nev., returned an indictment charging Joseph R. Francis with tax evasion, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. The indictment alleges that Francis, whose companies Mantra Films Inc. and Sands Media Inc. produce and sell the Girls Gone Wild videotapes and DVDs, deducted more than $20 million in false business expenses on the companiesí 2002 and 2003 corporate income tax returns.
According to the indictment, Francis used offshore bank accounts and entities purportedly owned by others to conceal income he earned during 2002 and 2003. The indictment also alleges that Francis transferred more than $15 million from an offshore bank account to a brokerage account in Irvine, Calif., held in the name of Rothwell Limited, a Cayman Islands corporation, that Francis controlled.
If convicted, Francis faces up to ten years in prison and fines of up to $500,000. Francis is scheduled to appear on May 22, 2007 at 3 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert A. McQuaid Jr. in Reno, Nev.
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
More information about the Justice Departmentís efforts against income tax evaders can be found at http://www.usdoj.gov/tax/taxpress2007.htm.