February 11, 2009

Thorpe Accused Of Dodging Taxes

MIAMI -- Champions Tour golfer Jim Thorpe has been charged with failing to pay $1.6 million in federal income taxes.

Thorpe, 60, of Heathrow, Fla., faces four counts of failure to file an income tax return and three counts of failure to pay income taxes. If convicted on all charges, he could be sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay a $3.2 million fine.

The charges allege that rather than pay his tax liabilities, Thorpe spent about $2 million on the construction of a new home and another $61,000 on a new vehicle.

Thorpe's attorney said his client plans to plead not guilty because he did not willfully intend to violate the law.

Prosecutors said Wednesday that Thorpe failed to file personal income tax returns on time and to pay his taxes for 2002, 2003 and 2004. In addition, they said he failed to file a corporate tax return on time for his company, JLT Inc, in 2003.

During those three years, Thorpe had gross income of more than $5.2 million, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Orlando.

A North Carolina native, Thorpe played more than 450 tournaments on the PGA Tour and won three times. He had three top 10 finishes in majors: two in the U.S. Open and one in the PGA Championship.

He has won 13 times, including one major, in more than 300 events on the Champions Tour, which features golfers 50 and older.

Thorpe has more than $13 million in career earnings as a professional golfer, according to the PGA Tour Web site.

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.