Jimmie Johnson, Roger Penske Among Those To Testify for Helio Castroneves

Jen PrestonSenior Analyst IFebruary 28, 2009

Former Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves is facing 78 months in a federal prison, along with his sister and attorney Alan Miller, after Castroneves failed to pay over $5 million to the IRS.

It may take an open-wheel superstar, a three-time NASCAR champion, and one of the most successful owners in motorsports to get him out.

The government is alleging that money paid to the 14-time IndyCar race winner put money into "a Panamanian shell company," Seven Promotions. 

According to Castroneves, his father has owned and operated the company for more than 10 years.

Juan Pablo Montoya is speculated to be testifying for Castroneves after his trial starts on Monday, when jury selection begins. Roger Penske could also be called to testify.

Jimmie Johnson is a client of former NFL star, turned sports attorney Miller, who has also represented Martin Truex, Jr., Clint Bowyer, and NEXTEL. Johnson could also be in court.

Miller is accused of having Penske Racing hold money from licensing from Castroneves' oil company, and then using the money for a deferred royalty plan.

"They are trying to show something that doesn't exist," Castroneves said Feb. 5. He also said he and his sister and business manager were "innocent."

The former Dancing with the Stars champion also says he doesn't "understand" tax rules.

"There is no way that Alan Miller, or Mr. Castroneves, could have felt they were violating the law," attorney Robert Bennett said.

Former Congressman Jack Kemp and Kevin Savoree—Andretti Green Racing co-owner—could also testify in the case.

All three defendants will be tried together.

Castroneves was replaced for the upcoming IndyCar season by Will Power in January.

"We remain hopeful that Helio's situation will have a positive outcome and the team is fully behind him," Penske Racing president Tim Cindric said. "While Helio prepares for his court case, we're excited to welcome Will Power to the team. Will has already proven that he's a terrific racer, and we think he's going to be a good fit with Team Penske."

 

Thanks to SPEEDTV.COM, NASCAR Scene Daily, CBS Channel 4 out of Miami- Ft. Lauderdale, the Indianapolis Star, ABC Action News out of Tampa Bay, FL and WTHR Channel 13 out of Indianpolis for the quotes and information used in this piece.

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