LOS ANGELES - "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis was placed under arrest by U.S. marshals Monday afternoon when he showed up five hours late to a court hearing related to his federal tax evasion case.
U.S. District Judge S. James Otero issued a bench warrant for Francis when the soft-porn mogul failed to appear in court Monday morning and could not be reached by phone for 30 minutes after the scheduled start of the hearing.
According to E! Online, Francis' lawyer claimed the soft-porn mogul was "sick as can be" with "the flu".
Monday's hearing was called in order for Judge Otero to consider a motion filed last week by Francis' attorneys-of-record, who are asking to withdraw from the case due to "strategic differences of opinion." Reuters reports that Otero wants Francis to find new representation before granting the original law firm's request.
Attorney Melissa Weinberger told reporters she would try to free Francis as soon as he was processed through the system.
Francis is charged with cheating on his corporate tax returns to the tune of $20 million. The trial is set to begin March 31.
Pictured: Joe Francis at Vivid Entertainment's 25th anniversary party during the 2009 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo