Jail Ordered for Girls Gone Wild Founder

Jail Ordered for Girls Gone Wild Founder
Joe Francis
Orlando Garcia/JPI

04/05/2007 AT 04:50 PM EDT

Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis has apparently gone AWOL.

Francis was ordered by a federal judge to surrender to authorities in Panama City by noon Thursday to begin serving jail time for contempt of court, the city's News Herald reported.

But sources tell PEOPLE that Francis, 34, missed the deadline.

The contempt charge stems from a lawsuit that began in 2003, when seven women, then underage, sued Francis for victimizing them by filming them in sexual situations while there were on spring break in Panama City.

In the spring of this year, U.S. District Judge Richard Smoak ordered the parties to begin settlement mediation. But on March 21, just as the negotiations were about the begin, Francis reportedly threw a three-minute, profanity-laced tirade.

On Friday, Smoak ordered Francis to be jailed until he agreed to participate in mediation in good faith.

The judge suspended the order the next day when he learned that Francis had made a settlement offer that the plaintiffs would consider.

But in an emergency hearing Wednesday, the women's lawyer, Ross McCloy, told Smoak his clients has accepted the offer, only to learn that Francis had substantially changed its terms, adding a payment plan that would be spread out over many years. "It was like a whole new offer," McCloy told the judge, according to the News Herald.

"He may have snookered us and gotten out Saturday," the judge said, "but he's coming back." Even Francis's own lawyer, Mike Dickey, admitted he was "stumped" by the turn of events.

Smoak reinstated the civil contempt order and said he also would consider starting a criminal contempt process. He also hiked the amount of money Francis would have to pay the plaintiffs' lawyers, the News Herald reports.

Francis, whose fortune has been estimated at $100 million, has long hobnobbed with Hollywood's A-list. He dated Paris Hilton and has partied with her sister Nicky, Nicole Richie, Tara Reid and Lindsay Lohan; last summer, Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn vacationed at his estate in Punta de Mita, Mexico.

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