A federal appeals court in Boston has upheld the conviction and 51-month jail sentence of Richard Hatch, the first-season winner of Survivor, on tax evasion charges.
Hatch claimed he was under the impression that the reality show's producers would pay the taxes on the $1 million he won. He was indicted for tax and fraud crimes on Sept. 8, 2005, for evading taxes on about $1.4 million and was convicted in May 2006 by a jury in the U.S. District Court in Providence, R.I. Hatch has been serving his sentence in the low-security Federal Correctional Institute in Morgantown, W. Va. He is scheduled to be released in October 2009.
His lawyers have claimed that the original trial judge prevented him from testifying that the Survivor producers agreed to pay taxes on any of his winnings. Hatch claimed he discovered the producers secretly providing food to some of the other contestants, and he made a deal with them not to reveal it.
However, the appeals court judge found that Hatch had several opportunities to present such testimony, but never did. Nor was Survivor producer Mark Burnett ever asked about any secret deals when he was called to the witness stand in the original trial.
"The failure of Hatch to present any evidence of such conversations when invited by the court strongly suggested that no actual promises were made, and no such 'deal' actually existed," said the court.
Hatch may next take his case to the Supreme Court.
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