Las Vegas Sun

September 20, 2014

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LOOKING IN ON: CRIMINAL JUSTICE :

‘Girls Gone Wild’ mogul posts bail, walks free

Francis

Francis

“Girls Gone Wild” producer Joe Francis got a taste of the Clark County Detention Center this week without having to spend any time behind bars.

At his arraignment Thursday before a temporary justice of the peace, Francis pleaded not guilty to felony charges of theft and writing a fraudulent check stemming from $2 million in reported gambling losses at Wynn Las Vegas.

Afterward, Francis went through the booking process at the detention center, where he was photographed and fingerprinted. But he was allowed post $132,000 bail and walk out a free man.

Reno lawyer David Houston said Friday he hopes to negotiate a deal with Wynn Las Vegas in the coming weeks to settle what has become a nasty civil suit over his client’s gambling debts and ultimately get the criminal case dismissed.

“Our fight is not with Clark County,” Houston said. “Our fight is in the civil arena.”

Francis contends he owes the Strip resort considerably less than $2 million and did not write a bad check, as the district attorney’s office alleges, to obtain gambling markers at the Strip resort in 2007.

He faces a Feb. 24 preliminary hearing on the criminal charges, which were first reported on by the Sun on Sept. 23.

Justice of the Peace Bill Jansen had signed a warrant to arrest Francis at the district attorney’s request, but the video producer’s attorney made arrangements for him to appear voluntarily in court.

•••

Galardi

Galardi

Michael Galardi, the former strip club owner at the heart of the biggest political corruption probe here in two decades, is one step closer to freedom.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Galardi is serving the final months of a 30-month sentence at a halfway house in Long Beach, Calif. He’s scheduled to be released by Jan. 5.

Galardi, 46, apparently has gotten plenty of time chopped off his sentence for good behavior and other reasons. He didn’t begin serving his term at a federal prison camp outside Denver until July 2007.

Life at a dormitory-style halfway house is much easier on federal inmates. They can work, for example, outside the facility and receive passes to spend additional time away.

Rick Rizzolo, a longtime topless club rival of Galardi, spent the last month of his 366-day federal sentence for tax evasion at a Las Vegas halfway house this year.

Galardi’s cooperation with the government led to the bribery convictions of three former county commissioners, Dario Herrera, Lance Malone and Mary Kincaid-Chauncey. All three are still behind bars. Erin Kenny, a fourth former commissioner who took money from Galardi, also is serving prison time as part of a deal she struck with the government.

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