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'Girls Gone Wild' Founder Joe Francis Charged With Bribing Jail Guard, Having Prescription Pills in His Cell

The millionaire founder of the Girls Gone Wild video empire was charged with bribing a jail guard for a bottle of water and having prescription sleeping pills in his cell, authorities said.

When he learned of the new charges Thursday, Joe Francis waived his right to a bond hearing for the contempt of court charge that had led to his being jailed. Francis cried as his mother blew him a kiss while he was led from a federal court room back to his cell.

"I didn't do anything," he told his parents as he was led away, The News Herald of Panama City reported.

Francis, 34, makes an estimated $29 million a year from the "Girls Gone Wild" videos, which show young women exposing their breasts and being shown in other sexually provocative situations.

On Thursday, he was charged with bribing a public servant, three counts of possessing a controlled substance and five counts of introducing contraband -- cash and drugs -- into a detention facility. The charges are third-degree felonies punishable by up to five years in prison.

Francis offered a jail guard $100 for a bottled water Wednesday evening, court records said. When the guard refused, Francis showed him $500, investigators said. Inmates are not allowed to have cash in the jail.

When supervisors searched Francis' cell, they found 16 prescription pills, including the sleeping medication Lunesta and the anti-anxiety pill lorazepam, according to court records.

The president of Mantra Films Inc., which produces the "Girls Gone Wild" videos, was arrested Thursday for supplying Francis with the pills and cash, Bay County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Ruth Sasser said. Scott Barbour was charged with introduction of contraband into a detention facility. He was scheduled to have a first appearance Friday.

It was not known if Barbour had an attorney.

Francis, owner and CEO of Mantra Films, drew the contempt citation last month during negotiations in a federal civil lawsuit brought by the seven underaged women filmed by his company in 2003.

Francis has said the women wanted $70 million (euro52 million).

Lawyers for the women told U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak that Francis became enraged and verbally abusive during settlement talks. The judge ordered Francis to settle the case or go to jail.

Negotiations continued with a mediator, but talks broke down last week and Smoak issued a contempt order.

Francis initially refused to surrender and called Smoak "a judge gone wild."

Earlier Thursday, attorneys for the women announced they had reached a settlement in the case.

Francis' spokesman Ronn Torossian also said there was a settlement in the case, but would not give further details.

On Wednesday, Francis was indicted by a federal court in Reno, Nevada, on charges that his companies claimed more than $20 million in false business expenses.

The Nevada indictment alleges that Mantra Films Inc. and its marketing arm, Sands Media Inc., claimed false deductions on the companies' 2002 and 2003 corporate income tax returns, the Department of Justice said in a statement.

The indictment also charges that Francis, of Santa Monica, California, used offshore bank accounts and entities purportedly owned by others to conceal income he earned in those years.