NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya and Roger Penske are among the potential witnesses that could be called in the tax evasion trial of open-wheel racing driver Helio Castroneves, his sister, Katiucia, and his attorney Alan Miller.
The trial is scheduled to begin Monday in U.S. District Court in Miami. If convicted on all counts, all three defendants could face 78 months in prison, according to pretrial briefs.
Miller, a noted sports attorney who played football for the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders, has three-time Cup champion Johnson among his clients and has put Johnson and team owner Penske on his witness list. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Montoya and other open-wheel drivers will also appear on the witness list for Castroneves, who has driven for Penske in the Indy Racing League. The scope of their potential testimony is not listed, and their inclusion on the witness list is no guarantee they will actually be called to testify.
Miller is well known in NASCAR circles. According to his Web site, he has had Clint Bowyer, Casey Mears, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch among his clients. He also represented former Cup series sponsor Nextel in its negotiations with NASCAR.
The government, in its pretrial brief, alleges that Castroneves failed to report to the IRS income from essentially four sources: income from 1999-2001 from Brazilian import/export company Cominex, income from 2000-2002 from a Penske Racing licensing agreement, income from two additional sponsorship deals, and bogus and fraudulent deductions on his corporate return that reduced the flow-through income to him.
The money from the Penske agreement went to Seven Promotions, which the government alleges is a Panamanian shell company that was owned by Castroneves, a two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500.
Castroneves will argue, according to his brief, that Seven Promotions was owned by his father, who managed, sponsored, promoted and financed the driver’s racing career in Brazil for approximately 10 years at substantial financial expense and personal sacrifice and was entitled to be paid.
Castroneves also will defend all aspects of the case on the basis that he did not act “willfully,” even assuming that there was a tax deficiency.
The indictment alleges Miller was involved in instructing Penske Racing to withhold certain licensing payments from Seven Promotions and then subsequently helping to establish a deferred royalty plan managed by Fintage Licensing B.V., to which the Penske payments were transferred. Miller argues that the Fintage plan was established to defer Castroneves’s income and associated taxes, not to evade taxes. Scenedaily.com
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