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    Spring Break Comes Early for Francis

    Joe Francis is free… to face off with the authorities in Florida.  

    A federal magistrate on Monday signed off on the temporary release of the Girls Gone Wild mastermind, who has been behind bars in Nevada awaiting trial on tax evasion and fraud charges since June, so he can travel to Panama City to answer to unrelated charges. 

    Francis' attorney, Fred Atcheson, handed the court a $1.5 million cashier's check to cover his client's bail and told U.S. Magistrate Robert McQuaid that Francis is planning to fly to Florida on Tuesday in time for a Wednesday court hearing stemming from his 2003 bust for allegedly filming underage girls for his boob-baring empire. 

    The 34-year-old entrepreneur is also facing a single count of smuggling prescription drugs into his cell while he was jailed in Bay County last April for contempt. 

    "Today I posted my bond in Reno so that I can immediately return to Florida to face the charges against me," Francis wrote in an email to E! News. "I will be released from jail in Reno in the next few hours. 

    "I want to thank you all for your help and support over the past 11 months of hell. I also want you all to know that in the same way you were there for me in my time of need, I will be there for you." 

    Last week, a Reno judge shot down Francis' request to be released from jail under the supervision of a retired Secret Service agent to ensure he would report promptly for all court dates and prevent him from being re-locked up in Bay County upon his return. 

    "Florida is not going to arrest him," Atcheson said in court Monday. "What happens in Florida, I believe, will conclude the matter."

    Florida State Attorney's Office spokesman Joe Grammer told the Panama City News Herald last week that the local authorities couldn't move forward with their case against Francis until the tax case, in which he's accused, among other things, of claiming more than $20 million in bogus deductions in his 2002 and 2003 corporate returns, is resolved. 

    “It wouldn’t affect the state or the defense in either way," Grammer said. 

    In Florida, Francis is charged with four felony and two misdemeanor counts of conspiracy, prostitution and using underage performers in a sexual capacity—all that's left of what was once a 73-count indictment in connection with a spring break 2003 film shoot featuring what turned out to be girls on the wrong side of 18 getting frisky in a motel shower. 

    Additional reporting by Tina Dirmann



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