Survivor winner Richard Hatch was arraigned Tuesday in federal court in Providence, R.I., on charges that he never paid taxes on the $1 million he won on the hit CBS reality show. Hatch did not enter a plea but told U.S. magistrate judge Lincoln Almond that he understood the charges and would waive his right to a grand jury. Almond released Hatch on a $50,000 bond, which the reality TV star posted immediately following the hearing. A plea hearing will be scheduled at a later date with U.S. district judge Ernest Torres. Prosecutors said they expected Hatch to eventually plead guilty as part of an agreement in which they would recommend leniency when Hatch is sentenced. Hatch, dressed in green khakis and a baggy plaid flannel shirt, would not comment outside the courtroom and slipped past reporters as he exited the building.
Federal prosecutors charged that Hatch, 43, filed false 2000 and 2001 tax returns, omitting his income from the CBS show as well as another $321,000 he was paid by a Boston radio station. Hatch, who lives in Newport, R.I., faces a maximum five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for each charge. In deciding to release Hatch, Almond found that he was not a flight risk given his strong ties to the state. Almond ordered Hatch, who has been traveling as a motivational speaker and has made numerous television appearances since his 2000 Survivor win, to surrender his passport. He prohibited Hatch from leaving Rhode Island without the court's permission. Hatch was also ordered to submit to periodic drug and alcohol tests.
As part of the plea agreement, Hatch said he would pay the taxes he owes, which the government said are between $200,000 and $400,000. The agreement does not shield him from any penalties the Internal Revenue Service might impose. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Survivor Entertainment Group paid Hatch $10,000 in August 2000 for appearing on the final episode of the reality show and $1 million for being declared the show's winner. Prosecutors allege that in November 2002, Hatch filed a false personal income tax return for the 2000 tax year by failing to report this $1.01 million total. Prosecutors also said that Hatch failed to report income he earned working as on-air cohost and on-air personality for The Wilde Show on WQSX-FM in Boston between January and December 2001.
On Survivor, Hatch stood out because of his penchant for nudity and as the only openly gay contestant; David Letterman dubbed him the "fat naked guy." Since the television show Hatch has weathered a series of legal battles. He was arrested in April 2000 on a charge of abusing his then 9-year-old son. That charge was later dropped. In a 2002 ruling that overturned a conviction from several months earlier, Hatch was found innocent of assaulting his ex-boyfriend.