LOS ANGELES—Papers were filed in federal court in Los Angeles Friday, asking the court to unfreeze millions of dollars that it reportedly seized from Joe Francis earlier this month, TMZ has reported. The celebrity gossip and news site said that it has obtained legal docs requesting a judge to order the feds to release his money.
Francis had earlier told TMZ that the IRS seized $100 million of his contained in accounts at USB and Morgan Stanley, claiming that the Girls Gone Wild mogul was in arrears on his taxes to the tune of almost $34 million. A lien also was filed against him for that amount, and Thursday, Francis had indicated that he intended to file for bankruptcy Friday after the seizure of his accounts.
Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak, sitting in his Panama City courtroo—overseeing a civil suit filed last year against Francis and his company, Mantra Films Inc., by four local women who claimed they were 13 to 17 years old when they were filmed by Girls Gone Wild in stages of undress or engaged in sexual activity—was told by Francis' attorney that he was absent because he was sick in a Mexico hosital.
"The day began with Francis’ attorney, Rick Bateman, presenting a note to Smoak from a doctor in Mexico," reported the NewsHerald.com. "He told the court he had spoken to Francis earlier in the week and that he was 'delirious.' Bateman said his client was suffering from an acute ear infection, a high fever and vertigo." The judge asked to be kept apprised of his medical condition.
Apparently, Francis' financial situation is a topic of conversation in the Florida case, the participants of which are well aware of his current troubles.
"One of the main things the plaintiffs have wanted to know was how much Francis was worth, but Francis kept saying he did not know and sent them to various subordinates for the figures, the plaintiffs said," the NewsHerald reported.
"Both sides at the hearing discussed whether Francis will have to file for bankruptcy because the IRS has frozen some of his assets," it continued. "All of the attorneys in the case, including Bateman, cited information about Francis from TMZ, the AOL-affiliated celebrity gossip and news organization. Bateman told Smoak that he had found out about the possible bankruptcy from his daughter, who found out from TMZ and that he did not know what TMZ was."