Castroneves' Trial Takes Weekend Break
The two-time Indianapolis 500 champion and driver for the esteemed Penske Racing operation faces charges of tax evasion, along with his sister Katitucia and attorney Alan Miller for what the Internal Revenue Service says was millions of dollars worth of evaded and unpaid tax returns.
And Friday, after both the prosecution and the defense finished their final statements, the jury deliberated for over two hours before closing up shop for the weekend.
Of course, these charges threaten to seriously derail the career of a driver who has won just about everything in IndyCar with the exception of a few near-misses at the season championship. If found guilty, Castroneves & Co. all face up to six years in prison -- quite a sentence for the 33-year-old in a sport where one bad season can mean the difference between battling for wins or battling for a place to drive.
The possible prison sentence has implications for the NASCAR world, too, as drivers like Jimmie Johnson are clients of Miller's business. It should be clear, though, that there are no other accusations of impropriety against any of Miller's clients.
For many people who find United States tax code to be more challenging than hitting a three-run home run in baseball with one person on base -- like your's truly -- it's hard to fully grasp what Helio is accused of doing, much less why a tax case has gone to criminal court.
One would think that another venue -- say, a tax court? -- might be a little better suited for such a case to decide if Helio owes money or not. The problem, though, seems to arise from the fact that the IRS feels Castroneves and Miller misled or outright lied to their investigators about the placement of Helio's income.
Regardless, the decision on the future of Helio in the seat of an IndyCar should come early next week and until then, we'll only be able to wait and wonder.