Opening arguments to be heard in Castroneves tax fraud case
Opening arguments in Miami federal court begin Tuesday in the tax-evasion case against Brazilian race car driver Helio Castroneves, the two-time Indy 500 winner and the Dancing with the Stars celebrity.
|So far the judge has sided against Castroneves in pre-trial arguments made by his defense team|
Castroneves, 33, is charged along with his sister and attorney in a conspiracy to evade paying taxes on more than $5 million from the driver's racing and licensing agreement with the Penske Team between 1999 and 2004.
If convicted, Castroneves, a Brazilian national who owns a mansion in Coral Gables, and the others could face from five to 10 years in prison -- plus hefty fines.
There has been a flurry of pretrial motions by both sides following the filing of the grand jury indictment last October. In almost every instance, Castroneves, his sister, Katiucia Castroneves, and the racer's Michigan lawyer, Alan R. Miller, have come out on the short end.
U.S. District Judge Donald Graham has rejected their motions to dismiss the indictment and hold separate trials for the defendants. Last week, he sided with prosecutors who opposed the defense team's effort to introduce photographs and memorabilia of Castroneves, who gained even greater fame in 2007 when he was crowned champion of the reality TV show Dancing with the Stars.
''Pictures and memorabilia of Helio Castroneves and Alan Miller as kids, and athletes, and with other celebrities are irrelevant to the ultimate issue in this case -- whether the defendants committed tax fraud,'' prosecutors wrote in a motion to exclude that evidence. Miami Herald