Company Town

The business behind the show

« Previous Post | Company Town Home | Next Post »

'Girls Gone Wild' producer sues former employees over tax evasion charges

September 2, 2009 |  8:07 am

"Girls Gone Wild" empire founder Joe Francis is blaming his tax troubles on a trio of former employees in a new lawsuit.

JOEFRANCIS The complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday by "Girls Gone Wild" production company Mantra Films, alleges that the firm's former chief financial officer Michael Barrett, former head of technology Roman Pelikh and former vice president of operations Will L'Heureux defrauded Mantra and falsely accused Francis of tax evasion.

The lawsuit charges that the three formed their own company, WMR Marketing, and hid their involvement in it as they approved fraudulent invoices it submitted to Mantra worth nearly $500,000. It also claims that Pelikh submitted and obtained reimbursements for hundreds of thousands of dollars of fraudulent expense reports.

It claims that the three contacted the Internal Revenue Service to falsely accuse Francis of tax evasion, a charge for which he was indicted in 2007, in order to remove "the possibility that Francis could catch the ongoing fraud and theft." The trial for those charges will reportedly start in October. It's one of numerous legal problems in which Francis has found himself in recent years.

The lawsuit asks for at least $5 million in damages.

A person who answered a phone number listed for Pelikh hung up when contacted by The Times. Barrett and L'Heureux could not be located.

--Ben Fritz

Photo: Joe Francis. Credit: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times

Comments 

Advertisement










Video