He’s back... Survivor winner Richard Hatch is in the spotlight again

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He was the first winner of the hit reality show, Survivor. And... then he made headlines again in 2006 for failing to pay taxes on his $1 million prize, plus other income. Now... he’s back, and he wants a favor.

After serving the first three years of his 51 month sentence in prison, Hatch is doing the balance of his confinement in the comfort of his Newport, Rhode Island home. Now that he’s down to the last stretch, the producers of Survivor have invited him to compete in the 20th season show (which coincides with its 10th anniversary). That would involve him traveling to Samoa for a seven week shoot, to begin approximately August 1st.  There’s an obvious benefit to Hatch, if allowed to go. But there’s also an upside for taxpayers.

Hatch’s attorney said in a filing which was supposed to be confidential, “If permitted to participate in this opportunity, funds earned by Hatch could be applied first to any U.S. tax obligation (once determined).” He added that Hatch is “especially eager” to pay his tax obligation and maintains his client is not a flight risk (as the prosecution contended). 

The United States Attorney’s Office objected to the confidential nature of the request and to the request to allow Hatch to travel. The government filing included the reminder that, “Judge Torres found that Hatch was in need of supervision, including mental health counseling, and that Hatch perjured himself extensively during the trial.” It also contended that this request was not much different than Hatch’s previous request to travel to Argentina for an “employment opportunity.” That request was also rejected.

Unverified rumors are that the Samoa show will be an “all-stars” edition, which explains the pursuit of having Hatch appear on the show. The show will presumably be called “Heroes vs. Villains,” and will include some of the former contestants.

Hatch’s original defense for failing to pay taxes on $1,355,000 was that he thought someone else handled those details. Though he was shrewd enough to beat out Survivor competitors to win the grand prize, he was such a poor bookkeeper that he told the court he was unqualified to handle the responsibility of paying taxes. Unfortunately for Hatch, neither the producers of Survivor, nor local accountants back up his story.

In less than a day of deliberation, the jury acquitted Hatch of seven charges of bank, mail, and wire fraud, but found him guilty on three counts of tax evasion for failing to pay taxes on income of $1,355,000. In addition, U.S. District Judge Ernest C. Torres concluded that Hatch committed perjury in the course of the trial and lied to probation officers. The result? Hatch was sentenced to 51 months in prison,  followed by counseling and three years on probation.

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