Nation/World

Casino mogul, porn king in court

Steve Wynn and Joe Francis provided a crash course this week in how rich men settle scores.

The Las Vegas casino mogul and the “Girls Gone Wild” impresario have been publicly warring since 2008. Their feud began as many do: with one man, Wynn, claiming the other, Francis, owed him money.

It escalated to name-calling, then incendiary accusations involving prostitution and death threats. So Wynn and Francis did what men of their pocketbook size often do: They called their attorneys.

This week, they faced off in a Los Angeles courtroom in a made-for-TMZ defamation case whose star witness was Grammy-winning producer Quincy Jones. It is one of four lawsuits Wynn and Francis have filed against each other in recent years. (For those counting, Wynn is 2-0 in civil judgments. Francis owes him at least $9.5 million.)

The case being heard this week began in 2010, when Francis said Wynn wanted to “hit me in the back of the head with a shovel and bury me in the desert” – the sort of “terrible lie,” Wynn testified this week, that could impugn his reputation and that of his eponymous gambling empire.

“He’s unrepentant, vicious, out-of-control,” Wynn said of Francis.

He added that Jones – Wynn’s friend and Francis’ neighbor – didn’t think highly of Francis, either: “He refers to Joe Francis as a screwball, a maniac, as worse than a villain.”

But did Wynn, 70, ever confide in Jones that he wanted Francis, 39, dead?

At some point, Francis testified this week, Jones told him that Wynn said via email that he wanted Francis dead. In deposition testimony read in court, Francis said Jones warned him about Wynn: “He’s gangster. He’s old Vegas. He doesn’t play.”

Wynn denied threatening to kill Francis. He also denied using email – ever.

So the courtroom was packed Thursday for the arrival of Jones, who could perhaps end one battle in the Wynn-Francis war.

Wearing black-rimmed glasses and speaking softly, Jones injected some humor into proceedings: At one point, Jones called himself “Malcolm in the middle.”

“Lot of drama, man,” Jones said in describing his neighbor.

Jones said he’d tried to broker peace between Francis and Wynn by urging Francis to wipe out his debt. In court, Jones ended up undercutting Francis’ case.

Jones said – repeatedly – that Wynn never threatened to kill the porn purveyor, and that Jones had never told Francis that Wynn had.

As for Francis’ contention that Jones warned him that Wynn was a “gangster”? “That sounds like a line from ‘Scarface,’ ” Jones said.



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