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Joe Francis’ October federal trial delayed until April

Panama City, Florida- Joe Francis won’t be coming back to Bay County this year to stand trial.

His federal tax evasion trial in Nevada was moved earlier this month to April 29. It had been scheduled for October.

Meanwhile, Francis, 34, the “Girls Gone Wild” founder and CEO, is charged in Bay County, Florida with two counts each of using and conspiring to use minors in a sexual performance. He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted as charged.

The charges stem from the filming of two 17-year-old girls performing sex acts with each other in a Panama City Beach motel shower during Spring Break 2003. Francis once was charged with 43 offenses from 2003, but Circuit Judge Dedee Costello tossed most of the charges after throwing out all the physical evidence collected under a flawed search warrant.

He also faces a charge from April of smuggling contraband, prescription medication, into the Bay County Jail.

Francis has been in jail since April, first serving a 35-day sentence for contempt of federal court and now being held in Nevada awaiting trial there on a charge of tax evasion. There is a detainer from Bay County circuit court that would hold Francis in jail until he goes to trial on his charges here, which won’t happen until Francis’ Nevada case is resolved.

The day that Francis was due to be released from his contempt charge, local officials did all they could to keep him in the area to stand trial before being tried in Nevada. However, federal authorities ignored local pleadings and took Francis to Reno to begin his trial preparations there.

“It’s frustrating to be delayed once again by circumstances beyond our control,” Panama City State Attorney spokesman Joe Grammer said Thursday of the continuance.

Meanwhile, Francis’ new lawyer, Roy Black of Miami, has filed a motion asking Costello to vacate her order that would make Black’s next bond request open for public inspection. Black asked for permission to file it under seal because it contains Francis’ psychological records, but Costello denied that.

The recent motion hasn’t been acted upon.

This would be the third bond request Francis’ lawyers have made since his incarceration in April.

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