Race car driver Helio Castroneves’ attorneys and employer asked a judge to delay his March trial on tax evasion charges until next November so he can continue racing, according to court documents filed Thursday.
Penske Racing, Inc. said if the trial is held between March and October, it will have to change drivers now to avoid the risk that Castroneves will be unavailable for the 2009 IndyCar series, which runs from April to October.
Penske attorneys said Castroneves is under contract with them for 2009 and must be available exclusively for all races.
Castroneves’ lawyer said it would be “catastrophic” for him to lose his job and that “a presumed innocent defendant should not face the prospect of losing his career based solely on the return of an indictment,” according to court documents. Additionally, one of Castroneves’ attorneys had a scheduling conflict in an unrelated case.
The U.S. Attorney’s office did not immediately return messages left after business hours seeking comment on the motion for delay.
Castroneves, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner who also won the 2007 TV “Dancing with the Stars” competition, is charged with conspiracy and tax evasion. He’s accused of dodging U.S. taxes on about $5.5 million in income using offshore accounts. He has pleaded not guilty and is free on $10 million bail.
His sister and business manager, Katiucia, and attorney, Alan R. Miller, were also indicted. Both have pleaded not guilty.