MIAMI (AP) -- Throughout his tax evasion trial, Brazilian race car driver and "Dancing With The Stars" champ Helio Castroneves talked of his desire to get behind the wheel again.
On Saturday, he'll have his chance after being acquitted the day before of most charges that he worked with his sister and lawyer to evade more than $2.3 million in U.S. income taxes.
After the trial ended, he flew to California where Team Penske said he would drive in qualifying sessions Saturday for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The following day, he'll compete in the race.
"Instead of going to Disneyland, I want to go to Long Beach to race," Castroneves said shortly after a federal jury acquitted him on six counts of tax evasion but was hung on one count of conspiracy. "I'm going back to racing."
In a statement, Penske welcomed him back to the team.
"We couldn't be happier for Penske Racing, Helio Castroneves and his family and look forward to having him back on the race grid at Long Beach," the statement said.
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 charge. Michigan motorsports attorney Alan Miller, 71, was acquitted on all three counts of tax evasion and one count of conspiracy. The deliberations took six days after a six-week trial.
All three faced more than six years in prison if convicted of conspiracy and tax evasion between 1999 and 2004. The case mainly revolved around income from a $2 million sponsorship deal Castroneves had with the Brazilian firm Coimex and his $5 million licensing deal he reached with Penske Racing in late 1999.
Alicia Valle, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office, said prosecutors will review all of the options on the hung conspiracy charge "to determine how best to proceed."
Castroneves' lawyers said it would be "illogical to proceed" with refiling the conspiracy count.
Castroneves, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and one of the Indy racing circuit's most popular drivers, was temporarily replaced on Team Penske by Australian Will Power pending the outcome of the case. Castroneves won the TV dance competition in 2007.
Central to the case was the ownership of a Panamanian company called Seven Promotions. Prosecutors called it a shell corporation set up primarily so Castroneves could dodge U.S. income taxes, but Castroneves' father testified he created Seven to boost his son's image in Brazil. The elder Castroneves said his son never owned it.
Prosecutors called that a lie, showing jurors numerous documents in which Castroneves claimed Seven as his own. If it was, an Internal Revenue Service agent testified that Castroneves owed U.S. taxes on the full $5 million from Penske even though he has never actually received the money.
Instead, the Penske payments were eventually invested in a deferred compensation deal with the Dutch firm Fintage Licensing B.V.
Castroneves attorney Roy Black told jurors in closing arguments that such deals are common — and perfectly legal — for athletes who have relatively short careers and face injury or worse at any moment.
Black also said Castroneves had only a slight understanding of his financial affairs and relied on professionals to deal with them.
"Does anybody really think Helio Castroneves really made a financial decision. All he did was drive — and drive he did," Black said.
Prosecutor Matt Axelrod, however, said it made little sense for Castroneves to sign away $5 million if he had no control.
"You don't send millions of dollars to a company you don't own or control," Axelrod said.
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