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Haas CNC plans no changes despite owner's guilty plea
Haas CNC Racing team owner Gene Haas appeared in U.S. District Court today in Los Angeles and pled guilty to one count of tax fraud.

The plea bargain includes a two-year prison term for Haas, the owner of Haas Automation, which is the largest dollar-volume machine tool builder in North America and the largest unit-volume builder of CNC machines in the world.

Haas' sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 5. If the judge declines to impose the two-year sentence, Haas or the government will be allowed to withdraw from the plea agreement.

Haas, who was arrested in June 2006 after a lengthy investigation, agreed to pay $34.2 million in back taxes for the years 2000 and 2001, as well as a $5 million fine. With statutory penalties and interest on the back taxes, Haas owes more than $70 million to the government.

Joe Custer, Haas CNC Racing general manager, said Monday afternoon that the race team will not be impacted by the Haas' guilty plea. The team fields Nextel Cup cars for Jeff Green (primary sponsor Best Buy) and Johnny Sauter (primary sponsor Yellow Transportation).

"It's good to put this behind us," Custer said. "This subject has been out there for three years."

Custer said the team hopes to retain the sponsors. Yellow mostly uses the sponsorship to entertain clients while Best Buy primarily uses its sponsorship to sell electronics.

"We're working through it with them," Custer said. "I think it will work out. Everybody wants to stick with somebody in a tough time. Best Buy's investment in NASCAR has been good so far. We've given them a good value."  Scene Daily

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