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Jury: 'Girls Gone Wild' producer must pay casino mogul $20M

By Anthony Mccartney
AP Entertainment Writer

LAST UPDATED: 10:44 a.m. HST, Sep 10, 2012

LOS ANGELES » A jury awarded casino mogul Steve Wynn $20 million in his slander case against "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis, who claimed the creator of some of Las Vegas' most upscale resorts threatened to kill him over a gambling debt.

Witnesses disputed Francis' claims during a four-day trial, including Grammy winning record producer Quincy Jones, who Francis said told him about Wynn's threats and showed him a stack of emails that contained them.

Wynn vehemently denied that.

In siding with Wynn, the jury determined today that there was clear and convincing evidence that Francis slandered the casino mogul and knew his allegations were false when he made them.

Neither Wynn nor Francis was present in court this morning when the verdict was read.

Wynn's attorney on Friday had asked the panel to award the billionaire $12 million plus punitive damages to send a message that false statements that travel far in the Internet age will not be tolerated. A second phase of the trial to decide punitive damages will begin on Tuesday.

The CEO of Wynn resorts and designer of signature Las Vegas casinos such as The Mirage, Bellagio, Wynn and Encore attended the trial.

Francis, who testified, has built a business empire based on videos of young women flashing their breasts for video cameras. His attorney argued that both men may be telling the truth and that Francis may have been misled by Jones. Francis claims he heard about the threats from the Grammy-winner, who is his neighbor, but Jones denies hearing Wynn utter any threats.

Wynn's attorney, Barry Langberg, accused Francis of lying about the threats, pointing out that there was no evidence of any email Wynn had sent and multiple witnesses corroborating the casino mogul's story. He argued that Francis was malicious because he repeated the threats last week in an interview on "Good Morning America."

Francis had previously said at a court hearing that Wynn threatened him over a $2 million gambling debt Francis incurred at Wynn's hotel. Celebrity news website TMZ reported on the hearing and Francis confirmed his allegations to a reporter from the site afterward.

"He committed character assassination," Langberg said. "He did it for a simple reason — he didn't want to pay his debt."

Francis' attorney, Aaron Aftergood, had argued that Wynn hadn't suffered any damages.

Wynn said after arguments concluded on Friday that he would donate any winnings, minus his attorney's fees, to charities.

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aomohoa wrote:
And this is worth $20 million? This is what is wrong with our legal system.
on September 10,2012 | 09:42AM
kainalu wrote:
The big snake eating the little snake.
on September 10,2012 | 09:50AM
Mythman wrote:
We don't have snakes in Hawaii, right? The big snake is not KSBE, right?
on September 10,2012 | 10:18AM
grantos wrote:
what are you talking about?
on September 10,2012 | 02:30PM
cojef wrote:
Don' mess with Big Boys, cuz you are going to be the short stick. They know how put pressure where it hurts.
on September 10,2012 | 01:51PM
slc3755 wrote:
Of course, the porno shyster could have just paid his gambling debt and none of this would have happened.
on September 10,2012 | 05:57PM
bullturd wrote:
Nothing wrong with the legal system...remember, trial by jury. "Guilty" The snake in the grass was Francis. Pay up-or shut up.
on September 10,2012 | 02:57PM
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