A federal judge has sentenced Richard Hatch, who won the first season of the CBS reality show "Survivor," to 51 months in prison for tax evasion.
Hatch, 44, was found guilty in January on three counts of tax evasion and filing a false return for failing to report income of more than $1.4 million from the television series and other sources. U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres also ordered Hatch to pay taxes that he owes for 2000 and 2001, which the Internal Revenue Service calculated at $474,971, plus interest and penalties.
Torres upped Hatch's sentence for obstruction of justice, saying that he believed Hatch committed perjury on the witness stand and failed to disclose assets to the Probation Office.
"Our nation's federal tax system is not a reality show to be outwitted, it is a reality, period," said Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's Tax Division Eileen J. O'Connor, in a statement.
Hatch has been detained in a Plymouth, Mass., jail since the conclusion of the trial, when the court deemed him a flight risk. He faced a maximum of 13 years in prison and a fine of $600,000, although when Hatch was first convicted, Torres said that he expected to sentence him to just 33 to 41 months.
Hatch claimed that he believed "Survivor" producers would pay his taxes, and said that he forgot to tell his accountants about other income, including a $27,000 Pontiac Aztec given to him as part of his Survivor prize; $320,000 he received for radio appearances; $27,000 in rental income; and $36,000 in charitable donations to his foundation, Horizon Bound.
A grand jury investigation was launched in March 2005 when Hatch backed out of a deal to plead guilty to two tax evasion charges that carried a maximum 10-year prison sentence and a $500,000 fine. Lawyers for Hatch said that an appeal is already underway.
Previously on WebCPA:
'Survivor' Found Guilty of Tax Fraud (Jan. 26, 2006)
'Survivor' Winner's Tax Fraud Trial Underway (Jan. 19, 2006)
'Survivor' Hatch Ditches Plea Deal on Tax Evasion (March 9, 2005)
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