- The Washington Times - Monday, April 13, 2009

MIAMI (AP) - Jurors deliberating the fate of Brazilian race car driver Helio Castroneves and two others charged with evading U.S. taxes asked Monday for transcripts of testimony by two tax lawyers who were called by the prosecution to describe how Castroneves’ finances were structured.

The request, which was granted by U.S. District Judge Donald Graham, followed a question Friday from jurors about a key aspect of tax law. The 12-person jury began deliberations Friday after six weeks of testimony and did not reach a verdict Monday. They will continue Tuesday.

Castroneves, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, his sister and business manager Katiucia Castroneves and Michigan lawyer Alan Miller each face more than six years in federal prison if convicted on conspiracy and tax evasion charges.

Prosecutors say Castroneves failed to pay more than $2.3 million in taxes between 1999 and 2004. Castroneves insists he is innocent and paid all the taxes he owed.

The jury’s requests revolve around a U.S. tax doctrine known as constructive receipt. It says a person cannot avoid taxes by refusing to accept income that is ready to be paid.

Prosecutors say Castroneves owes taxes on $5 million he was promised from Penske Racing even though he has never actually received the money, which still sits in a Dutch deferred compensation account.

The first jury question focused on the timing of a taxpayer’s rights to income, which would affect when tax liability is triggered. Graham responded by reading the jurors a portion of U.S. tax law stating that liability begins when money is credited to the person’s account, set aside or made available for withdrawal at any time.

The second question Monday asked for trial transcripts of testimony by New York tax attorneys Fred Feingold and Mark Berg, who were called by prosecutors to describe their roles in arranging Castroneves’ finances.

Defense attorneys say Castroneves never had access to the Penske money and did not own a Panamanian company to which it was initially promised. Prosecutors contend Castroneves did own the Panama firm Seven Promotions.

Castroneves, who won TV’s “Dancing With The Stars” competition in 2007, is also charged with failing to report as U.S. income sponsorship money he received from the Brazilian firm Coimex, taking improper tax deductions and failing to report as income clothing and airline tickets he received.

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