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Racer Castroneves cleared of tax charges

Helio castroneves Helio Castroneves, the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and Dancing With the Stars champ, will be back on the race track this weekend. A Miami federal jury acquitted him of six tax evasion charges this afternoon.

Castroneves' sister, Katiucia, was cleared of the same charges. The siblings' lawyer, Alan Miller, also left the courthouse a free man.

Jurors did, however, deadlock on the conspiracy charge against the brother and sister. There's a chance that federal prosecutors could push for another trial on that charge. But don't bet on it.

Helio, Katiucia and Miller had been accused of using Panamanian and Dutch companies from 1999 to 2004 to conceal $5 million that the Brazilian-born racer received from the Penske Racing Team, as well as another $530,000 he got from a former sponsor in Brazil.

If he had been convicted on all counts, Castroneves could have faced at least six years in prison.

Now, however, a happier Helio -- and that's saying a lot, because he's one of the most ebullient athletes I've ever seen -- is on his way to Southern California. He'll be back behind the wheel of his  No. 3 IndyCar in time for practice and qualifying tomorrow for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.


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