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Golfer Jim Thorpe charged with tax evasion

Jim Thorpe watches his tee shot on the 17th hole of the Jeld-Wen Tradition golf tournament of the Champions Tour in Aloha, Oregon on August 28, 2003. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola

MIAMI (Reuters) - American golfer Jim Thorpe, a 13-time winner on the senior Champions Tour, has been charged with failing to pay $1.6 million in federal income taxes, U.S. prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Thorpe, 60, of Heathrow, Florida, faces four counts of failure to file an income tax return and three counts of failure to pay income taxes. If convicted on all charges, he could be sentenced to seven years in prison and a $3.2 million fine.

Prosecutors said Thorpe failed to file personal income tax returns on time and to pay his taxes for 2002, 2003 and 2004. In addition, they said he failed to file a corporate tax return on time for his company, JLT Inc, in 2003.

During those three years, Thorpe had gross income of more than $5.2 million, according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Orlando.

A North Carolina native, Thorpe played more than 450 tournaments on the PGA Tour and won three times. He had three top 10 finishes in majors: two in the U.S. Open and one in the PGA Championship.

He has won 13 times, including one major, in more than 300 events on the Champions Tour, which features golfers 50 years of age and older.

Thorpe has more than $13 million in career earnings as a professional golfer, according to the PGA Tour website.

Reporting by Jim Loney, editing by Jane Sutton