While Indycar Series star and Dancing with the Stars winner Helio Castroneves is embroiled in a complex tax-fraud case in Miami, the as-of-yet unnamed prison he is likely to be sentenced to has been given extra money in order to cope with the "unique" security issues the 33-year-old Brazilian poses.
Castroneves, who is currently on trial, alongside his sister and business manager Katiucia and lawyer Alan Miller, could be jailed for over six years if he is found guilty of tax evasion. The charge is allegedly related to a $5 million sum paid to the driver by his Penske team.
However, it has emerged that the local Department of Corrections has taken the unusual step of already deciding which facility will hold the driver in the event of a guilty verdict.
"The department is aware that housing any celebrity presents challenges that our average inmate does not," said spokesman Frank Morris.
"We expect media interest in his location to be very high,” Morris went on. “Not only is Mr. Castroneves one of the most successful racing drivers in the US, but he still has a huge following from the Dancing with the Stars."
"But we are used to media interest,” he said. “The media is often interested in the more high-profile prisoners in our facilities and all our staff are well trained to deal with the situations."
Another DOC spokesman, John Anglin said, "We are very familiar with Mr. Castroneves’ work. When there's no football, baseball, basketball, NASCAR, lawnmower racing, or competitive origami on TV we often watch Indycar racing."
"We have noticed that, when necessary, Mr. Castroneves is not averse to scaling fences," he went on.
Castroneves, who has 14 wins in the Indycar Series, has made his "Spiderman" fence climbing routine his signature celebration, including his 2001 Indy 500 win, where he was joined on the fence by members of his winning team.
"Of course, we have had escape attempts before when prisoners have tried to climb our fences," Anglin continued. "However, none have shown the energy and determination that Castroneves shows in his victory celebrations. We have banned certain prisoners from watching Indycar races in case they get too familiar with his technique."
Fence expert Joe Glidden told us the construction of prison perimeter fences and racetrack catch fencing is not entirely dissimilar:
"You could say that the catch fencing is more difficult to climb," Glidden said. "In order to be effective the mesh on track fencing is finer and many tracks have a curved top to their fencing to further stop crash debris from entering the public areas."
"The only extra hazard prison fencing is likely to present is barbs,” Glidden also said. “Exactly how the barbs are installed varies from fence to fence, and prison to prison. If Mr. Castroneves can find a way around the barbs on a fence, then it's very likely he could escape. Barbs are his main hazard alongside rifle fire."
The exact plans the prison has to increase security remain cloaked in secrecy, with neither Morris nor Anglin willing to discuss the matter publicly, although their comments would suggest that higher fences are not being considered.
However, local resident George Kelly informed us that he had seen heavy digging machinery, water tankers, and animal transporters pass his house heading in the direction of the prison. However, he was unable to identify what livestock was being taken to the prison.
The Castroneves court case is expected to last for as long as six weeks.
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