Has someone been waltzing away with the government's money?
Hélio Castroneves, the former Indy 500 racing champ who won the fifth season of ABC's Dancing With the Stars, is in a heap of trouble today after the feds obtained an indictment against him for failing to pay millions in taxes from 1999 to 2004.
The Brazilian-born Castroneves, 33, along with his sister, Katiucia, 35, and his Ohio-based lawyer, Alan Miller, 71, face conspiracy and tax-evasion charges for hatching a tax-dodging scheme using an offshore shell corporation based in Panama to hide upwards of $5.5 million from the Internal Revenue Service. (View the indictment.)
And with the current financial crisis, you had to figure the feds were going to come calling.
According to the indictment, the threesome knowingly tried "to conceal and disguise the true and correct amount" of his income. In one instance Hélio claimed he only earned $200,000, despite the fact he made $2 million for work done for a Brazilian trading company.
Reps for Hélio Castroneves and his alleged partners in crime could not be reached for comment. But the trio are expected to turn themselves in to authorities and be arraigned in federal court Friday morning, according to the The Miami Herald.
Each could face up to 35 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
"This case sends a clear message that the IRS is committed to vigorously enforcing the tax laws and stopping offshore tax evasion," says IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman.
As a member of Team Penske, Castroneves won the Indy 500 in 2001 and 2002 but achieved newfound celebrity after he and partner Julianne Hough strutted their way to Dancing's crystal ball trophy last November.
Since his victory he has divorced his wife and lives alone in a mansion in Coral Gables, Fla.
The Florida-based feds know a thing or two about nailing celebrity tax dodgers, having obtained a conviction against Wesley Snipes earlier this year.