Just days after narrowly avoiding jail time, the multimillionaire founder of the "Girls Gone Wild" videos was again ordered to jail Wednesday for contempt of court.
Joe Francis, 34, has until noon Thursday to turn himself in to authorities, The News Herald of Panama City reported. A federal judge ordered Francis jailed on Wednesday after lawyers suing him complained that unbeknownst to them he had substantially changed the conditions of an offer they'd agreed to.
U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak found Francis in contempt of court last week after lawyers for seven women complained he shouted obscenities and threatened them during civil suit settlement negotiations. The women were filmed on Panama City Beach during spring break in 2003 for a Francis video. His videos generally show young women baring their breasts and acting out other sexual situations.
Smoak had ordered Francis arrested Saturday if he did not reach a settlement in the case but suspended the order after learning that Francis had made an offer the plaintiffs later agreed to.
Plaintiffs' attorney D. Ross McCloy told the judge during an emergency hearing Wednesday that he thought the case was resolved but later learned Francis had altered the conditions of the offer, making it unacceptable to his clients.
A mediator said the new offer included a payment plan that wouldn't be completed for many years.
"He may have snookered us and gotten out Saturday," Smoak said, "but he's coming back."
Francis' lawyer, Mike Dickey, told the judge he was "stumped" by the development.
The judge reinstated the civil contempt order, which means Francis will be in jail until a formal mediation session can be set up and he participates in a meaningful way.
Smoak said he would look into possibly starting a criminal contempt process. He also increased the amount of money Francis would have to pay to the plaintiffs' lawyers, The News Herald reported. It was not clear what the new sum was.
A telephone message left after hours at Dickey's office by The Associated Press was not immediately returned Wednesday night.