Helio Castroneves

AP Photo/David Adame

The judge in Hélio Castroneves' federal tax-evasion trial isn't ready to hit the brakes just yet.

U.S. District Judge Donald A. Graham this morning denied a motion filed by the race car turned Dancing With the Stars champ's lawyers seeking to push back the trial's start date from March 2 until November of next year.

"This Court attempted to satisfy all attorneys in the case by having them consult their work calendars, personal calendars, etc," the decision reads. "Since that date was agreed upon by all counsel, it will not be altered." (View the document.)

The embattled IndyCar driver sought the continuance in order to maintain a full racing schedule over the next year.

Castroneves argued in documents filed in Miami federal court that it would be difficult for his team, Penske Racing Inc., to replace him and would prove "catastrophic" for the driver himself, effectively robbing Castroneves of a chance to compete in the 2009 IndyCar series.

Moreover, the Brazilian speed demon now has to find new counsel to advise him on his next move, with attorney Mark Seiden filing a motion Friday to withdraw from the case.

Prosecutors had requested that Seiden step down because of his participation in "transactional matters that go to the core" of Castroneves' alleged illegal actions and his "intertwined relationship with both the evidence and one of the corporate entities at issue."

Seiden had hoped to stay onboard but knew that there's a chance he'll be called as a witness in the case.

Castroneves has pleaded not guilty to hiding more than $5.5 million in earnings from Uncle Sam between 1999 and 2004. He is currently free on $10 million bail.

—Additional reporting by Claudia Rosenbaum

(Originally published Nov. 14, 2008 at 12:05 p.m. PT)

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share