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    Joe Francis Felled by Flu, Picked Up by Police

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    Joe Francis
    Joe Francis Krista Kennell/ZUMA Press

    Maybe Joe Francis doesn't abide by dates unless they occur during spring break.

    The Girls Gone Wild founder was arrested Monday for showing up five hours late to a court hearing on his lawyer's motion to step down as Francis' counsel.

    A bench warrant was issued this morning after Francis failed to show and he could not be reached by telephone 30 minutes after the hearing's scheduled 8:30 a.m. start.

    He ultimately showed up at 1:30, with lawyer Melissa A. Weinberger telling the court her client was suffering from the flu.

    "He's been as sick as can be," she said outside the courtroom, adding that she would try to secure his release as soon as he was processed by federal marshals.

    As for the MO behind the court date: Defense attorney Robert E. Barnes, who has been representing Francis on federal income tax evasion charges, filed court papers last week stating that his firm was through with the flesh-peddling entrepreneur due to "strategic differences of opinion."

    Francis has pleaded not guilty to felony tax evasion. He has been accused of deducting more than $20 million in bogus business expenses from his corporate returns in 2002 and 2003.

    U.S. District Judge S. James Otero did not immediately OK Barnes' request, instead wanting Francis to secure new counsel before he grants the motion.

    Francis is scheduled to go to trial March 31.

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