Nascar Team Owner Gene Haas Given Prison Time

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A NASCAR team owner was sentenced Monday to two years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to defrauding the government of more than $34 million in taxes.

Gene Haas, the 54-year-old owner of Oxnard-based Haas Automation and NASCAR's Haas CNC Racing, was ordered to begin serving his term on Jan. 14, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

Haas pleaded guilty in August to a felony conspiracy charge for orchestrating a plan to list bogus expenses that could be written off as business costs and save Haas Automation millions in taxes. The company makes computerized machine tools.

As part of his plea agreement, Haas paid a $5 million fine, plus more than $70 million in back taxes and interests.

``Mr. Haas has now paid the government more than twice the amount of taxes he attempted to avoid paying,'' U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien said in a statement.

``This huge monetary penalty, as well as the two-year prison term, should reassure law-abiding citizens that tax evasion can and will be rooted out, and that there are significant ramifications for those who attempt to cheat the government,'' he said.

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