April 17, 2009 / 7:53 PM / 11 years ago

Race car driver Castroneves acquitted in tax trial

MIAMI (Reuters) - Brazilian race car driver and television dancing star Helio Castroneves and his sister were acquitted of six U.S. tax evasion charges on Friday, a court official said.

But a U.S. District Court jury deadlocked on a conspiracy charge against the siblings, leaving open the possibility the 33-year-old racer and his manager sister, Katiucia Castroneves, could face a retrial on that count.

Jurors also acquitted Castroneves’ lawyer, Alan Miller, on all charges.

Castroneves, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, was charged with failing to pay taxes on $5.5 million of income between 1999 and 2004. He could have faced at least six years in prison if convicted on all counts.

After winning the Indianapolis 500 in 2001 and 2002, he gained fame outside the auto racing world when he won the popular ABC television “Dancing With the Stars” contest in 2007.

Castroneves, who has lived in the Miami area for more than a decade, was accused of using Panamanian and Dutch companies to conceal $5 million he received from the Penske Racing Team and $530,000 he received from a Brazilian former sponsor.

Castroneves, who was seen praying at a church near the courthouse in downtown Miami while jurors deliberated, said all along that he was innocent. His lawyers argued that he relied on the advice of accountants and lawyers in dealing with complex financial transactions.

Reporting by Jane Sutton

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