Castroneves acquittedUPDATE #2 Roger Penske quotes on Castroneves acquittal, "Penske Racing is very happy for Helio Castroneves and his family, following today's verdict. The team has supported Helio throughout this process and will continue to as the matter goes forward. Penske Racing is pleased and excited to have Helio in the No. 3 Team Penske car at this weekend's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach."
On Will Power: "Penske Racing thanks Will Power for his hard work in helping the team prepare and begin the 2009 IndyCar Series season. We are pleased that Will will compete for Penske Racing in the No. 12 Team Verizon Wireless Dallara/Honda at this week's Grand Prix of Long Beach and the Indianapolis 500."
04/17/09 Indy 500 champ Helio Castroneves and his sister Katiucia sobbed and embraced each other after a federal jury found them not guilty on six counts of evading taxes on $5.5 million from racing car earnings.
The 12-member jury deadlocked on the lead conspiracy charge against them, which prompted U.S. District Judge Donald Graham to declare a mistrial on that count.
The jurors, who deliberated since last Friday after a six-week trial, also acquitted the Brazilian race car star's sports lawyer, Alan R. Miller, on the main conspiracy charge and three other tax evasion counts. Miller was not charged in three other counts of the indictment. With his legal victory, Castroneves, 33, will now be able to fly immediately to California to race in the Long Beach Grand Prix for Penske Racing, the team that hired him in late 1999. His licensing contract with the legendary racing organization was at the heart of the government's tax-evasion case. Castroneves, who has lived in the Miami area for more than a decade and owns a Coral Gables mansion, looked as if he were praying as he awaited word on whether the jurors would find him guilty or innocent of failing to pay taxes on $5.5 million earned between 1999 and 2004.
The IRS said he owed $2.3 million on that income. Castroneves, his sister and his sports lawyer -- charged in a conspiracy to evade paying taxes on the income -- were teased with partial verdicts returned by the 12-member jury on Thursday. But those verdicts were not made public. MiamiHerald.com
04/17/09 Helio Castroneves was acquitted Friday of most charges that he worked with his sister and lawyer to evade more than $2.3 million in U.S. income taxes.
A federal jury acquitted Castroneves on six counts of tax evasion but hung on one count of conspiracy. The jury also acquitted Katiucia Castroneves, 35, who is her 33-year-old brother's business manager, on the tax evasion counts but also hung on the conspiracy.
Michigan motorsports attorney Alan Miller, 71, was acquitted on all three counts of tax evasion and one count of conspiracy.
Castroneves expressed relief. "I just want to thank God, and my fans, and all of the people who prayed for me," he said outside the courtroom, still fingering a rosary.
"It has been a very difficult place to be in," he said, but added that his faith had seen him through. He said he planned to leave Friday night for Long Beach.
We will have more details later. The Penske team has called a press conference here in Long Beach to talk about getting Helio back in the car.
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