Richard Hatch, who became a millionaire when he won the first-ever Survivor series, has agreed to plead guilty to two counts of tax evasion for failing to report income including the $1.01 million he won on the show. Federal prosecutors charged that the openly gay 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. The penalty could be up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine
for each charge. However, as part of the plea agreement filed in federal court on Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney's Office said it would recommend a lesser sentence. The agreement is not binding, and Hatch could still choose to plead innocent and proceed to trial. Hatch was scheduled to be arraigned in U.S. district court in Providence, R.I., on Monday.
The charges were announced Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney's Office. The details of the plea agreement appeared in court documents, which were signed by Hatch on January 6 and filed Tuesday. 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 the $1.01 million.
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. A message left at Hatch's Newport home was not immediately returned, and his lawyer did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
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 2002, in a ruling that overturned a conviction from several months earlier, Hatch was found innocent of assaulting his ex-boyfriend. (AP)