Joe Francis, the head of the company that produces the “Girls Gone Wild” series of racy videos, is a free man after he was sentenced to time served in his federal tax evasion case.

U.S. District Judge S. James Otero handed down the sentence Friday after approving a binding plea deal from Francis. Last month, Francis pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of filing false tax returns.

Francis claims that his CPA, former Mantra Films CFO Michael Barrett, conspired with two others to embezzle millions of dollars from the company and then contacted the tax authorities to cover his tracks as well as win a whistleblower award from the IRS.

Barrett was hired as CFO in 2001 to handle the finances for both Francis and his company. In 2002 and 2003, he helped prepare Francis’s tax returns. In 2007, he contacted the IRS Whistleblower’s Office about Francis’s personal taxes.  The Department of Justice launched an extensive investigation during which Francis was held without bail for nearly a year.

To put the matter behind him, Francis decided to pay total restitution, back taxes and interest totaling $249,705, plus a fine of $10,000. In addition, he agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts in exchange for having the charges dropped.

“I have asserted my innocence on the felony charges against me in this matter for two years,” said Francis in a statement. “I have admitted that I should have and could have done more to reevaluate one of the tax positions that my former CFO assisted me in taking. I accept responsibility for that. I trusted people who turned out to be crooks. It is unfortunate that the IRS and the Department of Justice were duped into squandering so much energy, and more importantly, so much taxpayer money, on coming after me, based on absurd and false accusations by a person who has since confessed to lying and committing crimes against me.”

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