This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," October 17, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Tonight, a jailhouse interview with "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis. Now, we are in the Washoe County jail in Reno, Nevada, that Joe has called home since June 4. But his legal problems? Well, they started in Panama City, Florida, when his company filmed a "Girls Gone Wild" video during the 2003 spring break. Joe has not spoken publicly in at least six months, but tonight, he's breaking his silence. And you will not see this anywhere else.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Joe, where are we?

JOE FRANCIS, "GIRLS GONE WILD" FOUNDER: Well, I can honestly say I didn't ever believe that I'd be doing a jailhouse interview in my wildest dreams.

VAN SUSTEREN: And we're in which jail?

FRANCIS: We're at the Washoe County detention facility in Reno, Nevada.

VAN SUSTEREN: You and I have had many interviews before, going back to I think the middle '90s.

FRANCIS: For years, yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: Years. So it's sort of odd that we're doing this one in a jail.

FRANCIS: I just — I never believed that — I mean, I was involved in a civil lawsuit six months ago, and it wound me up in jail, which is the weirdest — it just — I just still don't understand it.

VAN SUSTEREN: This whole thing starts — Panama City is where this story begins for you.

FRANCIS: For — yes. For — "Girls Gone Wild" has had no other issues outside of Panama City ever. That just tells you how isolated this is and how these people — it isn't about "Girls Gone Wild" or me committing crimes, this is about a group of individuals who are relentlessly pursuing me for standing up for my 1st Amendment rights.

VAN SUSTEREN: Prior to Panama City, were you ever sued before?

FRANCIS: Mickey-Mouse civil lawsuits that are, you know, the course of business, but never, ever anything, you know, major. We won that one lawsuit we talked about on your show. That was really the only thing before Panama City.

VAN SUSTEREN: And never criminally charged with anything.

FRANCIS: Never criminally charged in my whole life. Never.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so the — so you go down — you send camera people down to Panama City.

FRANCIS: We were doing a pay-per-view with the WWE. And I had promoted — I'd been a character on "Raw" and their other shows with Vince McMahon, and you know, building a storyline. And we had said it was going to be live from Panama City, Cancun and South Padre Island. South Padre Island didn't have a problem with it. And Cancun obviously didn't have a problem with it. And then the mayor of Panama City used as a platform and started coming out publicly and saying, you know, Don't come to my town.

VAN SUSTEREN: How did he know you were coming?

FRANCIS: Because we publicly announced — I had said on the wrestling show that we're coming to Panama City.

VAN SUSTEREN: Who issued press releases, and what did the press releases say in Panama City?

FRANCIS: The press releases were issued by the mayor at the time, Lee Sullivan (ph), who was part of their whole, you know, good ol' boy government down there. And they said, you know, Francis is — Joe Francis and "Girls Gone Wild" is — are scum-sucking trash, and he better not come to our city or he'll be arrested.

VAN SUSTEREN: Those were the exact words, or is that your shorthand?

FRANCIS: Oh, that's — I mean, there were harsher words than that, and there were numerous public statements saying that. And basically, my response to that was — when I got the call, I was just driving through LA, and somebody called and said, You're not going to believe this. Some wacky mayor in a small town is coming against you. And I'm, like, Great for the pay-per-view. I'm, like, Book a bunch of press, and let's fight — let's fight this mayor telling me I can't come down.

And that's where — that led us to, you know, your show and the appearance on your show, where all of a sudden, you know, he's — you know, his statements are, you know, once again, You'll be arrested. You'll be jailed.

And I didn't — obviously, we don't — I don't break the law. I have never been in trouble with the law. I knew I wasn't going to break the law. Never in my wildest dreams would I have believed in a million years that they would be able to do anything to me as long as I didn't break the law.

VAN SUSTEREN: So what happened?

FRANCIS: So you know, after your show, you know, we got in that spat. You know, he, you know, threatened our cameramen. He followed around our cameramen. He'd fly helicopters. He'd try to harass them, you know, just simply for — for doing what, you know, they were allowed to do, which is protected speech and filming on public streets in capturing spring break.

VAN SUSTEREN: Tell — what do the cameramen do? Explain the whole process.

FRANCIS: Well, the cameramen go out — they go out and they find women who would like to go wild.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do they say? I mean, do they present them with something? Or do they say, Hey, I'm from "Girls Gone Wild"? I mean, what's the drill?

FRANCIS: Well, they have "Girls Gone Wild" shirts on, and I mean, really, the one thing they were careful at that time was, you know, not to solicit because that was a local ordinance that we were dealing with there. So they're very careful. I mean, they carry release forms. Age is the first thing that they get. They get, you know, age verification and on- camera release from the girls.

VAN SUSTEREN: They actually tape them doing the release, I mean, signing the release, asking them questions, like, How old are you, or...

FRANCIS: Not only taping the signing of release, they tape an ID. They tape, you know, the questions, the five — we call them the five questions — How old are you, your birth date, where are you from, your full legal name. You know, we take that very seriously. We take it very seriously at the time, and that's all captured on tape.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do they get paid?

FRANCIS: The cameramen? Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: No, no, not the cameramen, the women who participate.

FRANCIS: Sometimes. Rarely. And you asked how we get them. I mean, for the most part, the girls run up to the "Girls Gone Wild" camera men. I mean, girls want to be on "Girls Gone Wild." It's a fun thing. And it's - - you know, it's a rite of passage. It's — I mean, you're on TV.

VAN SUSTEREN: So this mayor didn't like this.

FRANCIS: This mayor didn't like it. He used it as a political platform. But you know, moreso, you know, while I — I didn't take his threats that seriously. I mean, I just didn't. I'm, like — I mean, I'm, like, Some goofball mayor is coming against me? Like, my PR agent is calling me on my cell phone, I'm, like, Great. I mean, you know, let's — you know, and that Greta wants to do an interview about it. I'm, like, Perfect. Let's go, you know?

And (INAUDIBLE) what they going to do to me? I don't break the law. I've never — you know — you know, it was, like, Big deal. Come arrest me. That's what I said to him on your show, I said, Come get me. He said, I know where you are, on your show, and I said, Great. Then come arrest me. And I said it again to him on our pay-per-view special.

VAN SUSTEREN: And what happened?

FRANCIS: He came and arrested me.

(LAUGHTER)

FRANCIS: Well, but let me give the rest of the story. I filed — like I said on your show, I filed that 1st Amendment lawsuit a few days after the appearance on your show, as I said I would, because he said he would continue to harass me. He backed down after I sued him individually. I sued the sheriff individually. I sued the chief of police. The local news media showed them all being served with papers on camera.

They were forced by the judge to back down. And they knew they were going to lose. So in exchange for us dropping — we reached a settlement, and they were instructed to leave us alone. They would not interfere in exchange for us dropping the lawsuit without prejudice, which means we could re-bring the lawsuit if there were more problems.

VAN SUSTEREN: So you won.

FRANCIS: I thought I won. But here's what happened. And this all came out in discovery. They set up a secret task force to follow us around to secretly monitor us, to secretly monitor our movements and harass us. And you know, it's still questionable whet her — how much of this incident happened that was, you know, a set-up or a product of the local government.

But two weeks after — now, I had never been in trouble in my entire life with anything, and neither had "Girls Gone Wild" had a problem anywhere. Two weeks after I won and I beat these officials, they came at me, arrested me, charged me with 71 serious felonies for a total of 335 years in prison, if convicted.

They seized my Gulfstream jet. They sent out a press release, which was a lie, saying a quantity of cocaine had been found aboard this 22- passenger jet. They sent out — they charged me with drug trafficking for five Vicodin pills that I had a legal prescription for that they had, that they had, I had a legal prescription for, charged me with 30-year drug trafficking charge.

They tried to destroy me and my business only because I stood up for my 1st Amendment rights, and yours, and everyone else's.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Our jailhouse interview with Joe Francis continues after a short break.

And later: No, this is not a scene from a Hollywood action movie. This is real. You will find out how the driver of this car barely cheated death. That's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Joe Francis, the CEO of "Girls Gone Wild," is used to traveling the world in a private jet and living it up in Hollywood. But since June 4, he has called a tiny Washoe County, Nevada, jail cell home, and he'll probably be here until his Reno, Nevada, tax evasion trial begins on April 29. Here's more of our interview with Joe Francis.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: And they charged you with this slew of charges. Are any of those...

FRANCIS: Oh, by the way, everything from racketeering, drug trafficking, prostitution, child pornography, obscenity. The list was — I mean, the list was just — it was — it was unbelievable.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are any of those charges still pending?

FRANCIS: There are — of the original charges, there are four felonies that are still — two conspiracy charges and two sexual performance charges that are still against me and...

VAN SUSTEREN: In state court in Florida.

FRANCIS: In state court in Florida, that's correct.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you ever met the sheriff?

FRANCIS: No.

VAN SUSTEREN: You never saw him?

FRANCIS: No.

VAN SUSTEREN: Never laid eyes on him at all?

FRANCIS: No.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Is it — is it your thinking that this whole sort of — what started here with the arrest, the cocaine allegation on the plane — was sort of the motive, the vilification, for how you got into the civil suit?

FRANCIS: Oh, yes, because, understand, the lawyers who — now, this is the good ol' boy network. The sheriff is driving this with the mayor. This is a small town that doesn't run the way that every other town — look, this is what I didn't understand. They don't teach you in school — like, what — my experience with the law up until that point was, Look, we have constitutional rights, we can enforce them. You know, it's good in every state. It's good in every county. It's not like — you know, just because this is a certain city, it's not part of the United States. I never thought of it as a different country.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you hate the sheriff?

FRANCIS: I don't know the sheriff.

VAN SUSTEREN: Hate the mayor?

FRANCIS: I don't know the mayor.

VAN SUSTEREN: How about the judges (INAUDIBLE) hate them?

FRANCIS: I don't — look, Greta, I don't hate anyone.

VAN SUSTEREN: But you're sitting in jail in Nevada. I mean...

FRANCIS: Look, it's more of a — can I tell you? This is more of a game for them. This is a game. This is a game and this is their mentality. There's a group of people who conspire together — and understand, you want to get to that civil lawsuit. The same — let me give you the connection between all of it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Explain — you got to explain what the civil lawsuit is, too.

FRANCIS: OK. All right. The civil lawsuit — out of this whole thing — this whole — those whole 71 counts were based off of one incident, one incident only, in which a cameraman, who was a contract worker for — contract labor worker working for "Girls Gone Wild," filmed two 17-plus-year-old girls taking a shower in a Panama City motel room. The girls...

VAN SUSTEREN: (INAUDIBLE) full body?

FRANCIS: Yes, full body. Full body.

VAN SUSTEREN: Full body.

FRANCIS: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: Up to the head to toe.

FRANCIS: Yes...

VAN SUSTEREN: OK.

FRANCIS: ... head to toe, and there's sexual contact. Now, the girls...

VAN SUSTEREN: And sexual contact?

FRANCIS: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: Between the two girls?

FRANCIS: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK.

FRANCIS: The girls — this is what I understand. By the way, I've never seen the tape.

VAN SUSTEREN: You've never seen it?

FRANCIS: Never seen the tape and wasn't there.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where is the tape?

FRANCIS: The tape is in the custody of the Dade County Sheriff's Department. I have never seen it. I'm not allowed to see it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Were you in Panama City when it was done?

FRANCIS: I was.

VAN SUSTEREN: When did you first hear about it?

FRANCIS: After — after it had been — I met the girls after it, but I didn't know any details about it. I first heard about it in a jail cell when one of my cameramen — they arrested 10 — they arrested my pilot and they arrested 10 other "Girls Gone Wild" (INAUDIBLE) and they started piling us into cells. And I go, What the hell is this about? And the cameraman himself said — well, explained, like, these girls had lied about their age.

VAN SUSTEREN: And what did you say to the cameraman?

FRANCIS: I'm, like, Well, you got releases and IDs and everything on camera? He said, Absolutely. And I said, Well, it'll be fine.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. So tell me what happened?

FRANCIS: So — and this is my understanding of the tape. They go through the release process for 10 or 15 minutes on the tape. The girls sign written releases. They represent, like I described, the five questions. They represent their age to the cameraman as being over 18. They forged birth dates on the releases. This is all posted on the Web site, as well. One girl even wrote, Please make me a copy of the tape, with a little heart. And — which is — the girls then shot the tape.

And what happened is, one of the girls went to their parents, and their parents decided this was an opportunity to get some money out of it. And the city was looking for anything possible to come after me for. Now, I wasn't present for the filming, OK? I didn't meet them until after the filming. I've never even seen the tape.

So they came up with this ridiculous theory that because I am the owner of the company, I have — I'm an aider and abetter to the sexual performance of a child. So out of that, they tried to create a racketeering component because there were two girls, and drug trafficking. And all this other laundry list was just added to embarrass, humiliate and destroy me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: We're going to have more of our jailhouse interview with "Girls Gone Wild" CEO Joe Francis when we return.

And later: Comedian Ellen DeGeneres cried on her talk show yesterday about a little dog named Iggy, and now two people say they've been receiving death threats. we're going to tell you why. That's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAN SUSTEREN: "Girls Gone Wild" made Joe Francis rich. The 34-year- old man makes an estimated $29 million a year. But it's also brought him legal problems, and the biggest legal problem happened when his company filmed a video during the 2003 spring break in Panama City, Florida, and two underage girls lied to be part of it. Here's more of our jailhouse interview here in Reno with Joe Francis.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: The civil suit.

FRANCIS: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: Explain the civil suit because that's actually an important part of the story.

FRANCIS: So look, so these two women, who lied about their age...

VAN SUSTEREN: How old were they, 17 and how many months?

FRANCIS: They were 17-and-a-half.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK.

FRANCIS: They were both about 17-and-a-half — and everything documented, everything on camera, them lying over and over. One of the women, in fact, had been on camera about 20 days before, we found on a tape, and lied about her age, showing her breasts on the street, as well, at that time. So and they — in their depositions, they said that they actually went out and seeked out a "Girls Gone Wild" cameraman to appear on "Girls Gone Wild." That was their dream. That was their goal. That was their ambition. There was no alcohol involved. There were no drugs involved. There was no coercion involved. And all of this release process is on camera.

So what happened was, they — the lawyers that had lost the 1st Amendment lawsuit — they hired those lawyers...

VAN SUSTEREN: Same lawyers?

FRANCIS: The same lawyers. Understand, the same lawyers is this whole — they're part of — the same lawyers in that town are part of the good ol' boy network (INAUDIBLE) Franklin Harris (ph) and Ross McCoy (ph) that are the good ol' boy network that represent — they represent the sheriff's department. They represented the city and all of its officials in my 1st Amendment lawsuit that I brought against them.

VAN SUSTEREN: So after you embarrass them or shame them on the 1st Amendment, they come back at you...

FRANCIS: With these girls.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... with a civil suit on behalf of the 17-and-a-half- year-olds, suing you under a theory that even though they lied, you should have known better.

FRANCIS: Should have known better. Now, this tape was never released. A day later, it was seized during raids. It was...

VAN SUSTEREN: So no one's seen — it's never been publicized.

FRANCIS: I've never seen it, and I don't know anyone that's ever seen it, other than the attorneys involved and maybe — obviously, the cameraman who filmed it.

VAN SUSTEREN: So they actually had to get the — so the lawyers for the two 17-and-a-half-year-olds and their parents had to go get the tape from you guys to see...

FRANCIS: No. No, actually, it's much more improper than that, and I was going to get to that later. But what actually happened is because that's the same lawyer — they also ended up — the same lawyer represented the sheriff's department on the seizure of the jet. That same lawyer — it's very, very — I mean, the same — was...

OK, let me back up a second. What that lawyer did was actually so improper. After they seized the tape from us and wouldn't let us see the tape, their lawyer was able to get a copy because he represented the sheriff's department. And the girls initially gave statements — the girls' initial statements to police — I didn't meet Joe Francis. They didn't even know who Joe Francis was. And the police were trying to say, Well, are you sure? You know, they really wanted to get me, just — you know, so they were trying to tailor the statements, but it just didn't work out because they hadn't met me.

So what happened was they actually — the lawyer — the civil lawyer went, got a copy of the tape because he was representing the sheriff's department anyways, so he improperly — he took the tape. We couldn't get a copy (INAUDIBLE) went with them, reviewed it with them, left the tape with them and said, Look, rehearse what happened here on this tape so that we can — so that we can make a better statement for you, and then came out differently in a deposition, you know, and tried to, like, you know, say that they may have met me or they may have known — you know, it's ridiculous.

VAN SUSTEREN: So you're saying they're crooked.

FRANCIS: Oh, corruption is — this whole thing is corruption. It's - - it's unbelievable. It's what I didn't believe, Greta. I didn't believe this existed. This is the United States. I thought — at 29 years old, I thought, Oh, my God, we're the great — look, here's what you're taught as a kid. We're the greatest country in the world. This document, this Constitution, this is good everywhere. This — how naive was I? I just — I've been told this my whole life. I didn't know it really works like this.

I thought I had rights. I thought, you know, just — if you didn't break the law, they can't say you broke the law. I didn't know that people use it as a game. These people who have power, they have a police force that they can send after you. They have the ability to charge you and take away your freedom and your life. I just can't believe it. I just, like, every — it went against everything I have been taught my whole life, everything.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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