(NEW YORK) — Las Vegas is a town accustomed to big-ticket bouts, and now one of sin city’s nastiest fights is about to enter round three as Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis is taking on hotel magnate Steve Wynn in court.
Francis, who is known for creating the salacious spring-break videos Girls Gone Wild, insists the only person who has gone wild is Wynn, the Las Vegas casino billionaire who Francis claims wants him dead.
“I was afraid for my life … He made it very clear that he wanted to kill me,” Francis told ABC News in an exclusive interview.
Francis says Wynn sent ominous, threatening emails about him that were seen by multiple people, including legendary music producer Quincy Jones.
“In all caps, and then exclamation points — like a crazy person’s e-mail – [Wynn wrote] ‘I’m going hit to him in the back of the head with a shovel and have him buried in the middle of the desert,'” Francis said.
Francis, 39, is now entrenched in a contentious court battle with the Vegas hotel magnate. Wynn, 70, is also suing Francis for defamation, saying Francis has been telling people about the alleged death threats in an attempt to ruin his reputation.
“There has never been any statement from Quincy Jones or anyone else confirming that this ever happened,” Wynn said.
Jones was initially scheduled to testify during the trial, but he’s since been excused due to a medical condition. He said that he has no comment on the case.
“For Wynn to win this case, he has to show that Francis made statements against him that were false and that hurt him,” Los Angeles trial lawyer Irwin Feinberg said. “For Francis to win, he has to show that the statements he made — either didn’t make the statements, or if he made them they were true, or if they weren’t true, they were somehow privileged.”
This clash erupted more than three years ago when Francis allegedly racked up a $2 million gambling debt at one of Wynn’s casinos.
Francis denies this, telling ABC News, “the gambling debt never existed.”
Wynn took Francis to court, not once but twice. And now he’s rolling the dice again.
Wynn’s lawyer also claims Francis talked about the “ominous” emails to a reporter outside the courtroom “knowing that the statement would be republished throughout the world.”
Francis denies this, claiming that the reporter heard him talk about it inside the courtroom, and that his courtroom comments are “privileged.”
Francis, who is also suing Wynn in three lawsuits currently pending –for alleged forged documents, fraud and defamation — has asked for a restraining order against Wynn. Francis feels confident facing the third round of this battle.
“I’m going to win!” he said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jim Bennett, Deseret News
Frank Pallotta, CNN Newswire