DOCUMENT: Celebrity, Crime

Francis Pal Pleads To Jail Bribery

Contraband smuggled to caged "Girls Gone Wild" boss

Joe Francis

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Francis Pal Pleads In Jail Bribery Scheme

DECEMBER 10--A former "Girls Gone Wild" employee this week pleaded guilty to bribing prison guards to smuggle contraband into a Nevada jail where soft-core kingpin Joe Francis was once locked up.

Producer Aaron Weinstein on Tuesday copped a misdemeanor plea deal and agreed to testify against two Washoe County Sheriff's Office employees whom he allegedly corrupted with cash, jewelry, airline tickets, electronics, and a $5000 Saks Fifth Avenue gift card. With his plea, Weinstein becomes the third defendant to admit guilt in the bribery probe, which has resulted in charges against five individuals, including Francis, who recently admitted to paying off two jailers.

In July, Weinstein, 46, was named in a three-count felony indictment charging him with bribing three jail employees while Francis was being held in the Nevada lockup in 2007-2008 (the "Girls Gone Wild" boss was incarcerated following his arrest on federal tax evasion charges). A December 8 misdemeanor information, a copy of which you'll find here, alleges that Weinstein got prohibited items like magazines and DVDs delivered to Francis in the Washoe jail.

Weinstein's plea follows the conviction of Ralph Hawkins, a sheriff's deputy who admitted taking $3200 and Oakland Raiders tickets from Weinstein in return for smuggling unauthorized food items (like sushi and barbecued chicken) to Francis. In a December 3 U.S. District Court filing in Hawkins's case, prosecutors described Francis as having "a history of manipulative behavior and misconduct while in custody," adding that he "convinced Hawkins to provide 'contraband' to him while he was detained."

Two other sheriff's employees, Mary Boxx and Michon Mills, have been indicted for allegedly taking bribes from Weinstein. While both women have entered not guilty pleas, a change of plea hearing is scheduled today for Boxx. Mills, who has been involved in plea discussions, has been charged with taking a $4500 Cartier watch and the Saks gift card from Weinstein in return for disclosing that Francis's jail phone calls were being monitored by federal agents. She also has been accused of improperly providing Francis with "unrestricted access to telephones" and protecting him from disciplinary measures. (8 pages)