Francis Loses the Right to Stay a Las Vegas Debtor


     (CN) - "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis has to pay a $2 million gambling debt to the Wynn Las Vegas casino, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled, finding that Francis cannot take back his invocation of the Fifth Amendment to nearly every question he was asked in a deposition.
     Wynn sued Joe Francis for breach of contract and conversion, attempting to collect on a $2 million balance from a 2007 gambling trip. Francis fired back with counterclaims of breach of contract and extortion.
     While the Wynn produced more than 100 discovery documents, Francis produced a letter from Wells Fargo stating that his bank account has been closed. Wynn referred the case for criminal prosecution.
     In the civil case, Francis invoked his right to avoid self-incrimination to such questions as "Have you ever been in the state of Nevada?" "Are you married?" and "Does anyone live in your home with you?"
     "Do you have a father?" Wynn's counsel asked.
     "I think everyone has a father. Yes."
     "Okay. Is he living?"
     "Right to remain silent."
     "What's his name?"
     "Right to remain silent."
     Wynn asked the trial court for summary judgment based on bad-faith assertion of privilege and failure to counter Wynn's evidence.
     When Francis argued that discovery should continue, Judge Michelle Leavitt of Clark County's eighth district court was not amused.
     "Do you have a cell phone? Right to remain silent. That's the most ridiculous exercise of the Fifth Amendment I think I've ever seen," she stated, ruling that Francis owes $2 million in unpaid casino markers.
     The Nevada Supreme Court upheld the decision.
     "Francis' invocation was overbroad. Although answering some of Wynn's questions at his deposition could have been incriminating, his refusal to answer nearly every question was unjustifiable," Chief Justice Nancy Saitta wrote for the court.