'Gone Wild' founder sues accountant

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Joe Francis, the founder of the "Girls Gone Wild" video series who faces felony tax evasion charges, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles alleging that he was defrauded by a former accountant.

Francis, 34, who pleaded not guilty this week in Los Angeles in a criminal case involving some $20 million in allegedly phony business expenses, claimed that Michael Barrett, who worked for his Santa Monica-based Mantra Films Inc. from 2002 to 2004, knowingly made mistakes on the company's returns and then initiated an Internal Revenue Service investigation, hoping to reap millions of dollars as a reward.

Barrett could not be reached for comment.

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