Judge Tosses Francis Gambling Debt Case

15 September 2011 1:06 AM, PDT

Las Vegas — “Girls Gone Wild” founder Joe Francis beat the house Wednesday in a criminal case over a $2.5 million Las Vegas casino debt.

A state judge threw out a criminal theft and bad check indictment against the soft-porn mogul that involved the Wynn Las Vegas resort. Because the casino waited 16 months to redeem a casino marker, or Iou, the judge ruled that Wynn and prosecutors lost their chance to prove Francis committed a crime.

Unpaid casino markers are treated in Nevada like bad checks under a state law that allows prosecutors to file criminal charges and collect a percentage of any settlement.

“The presumption of fraud does not apply,” Clark County District Court Judge Linda Marie Bell said in the ruling. “Mr. Francis had sufficient funds in his account to cover the marker at the time it was issued.”

After the dismissal, Francis told The Associated Press that he »