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testifies in Survivor trial

testifies in Survivor trial

Federal prosecutors wrapped up their case Thursday in the tax evasion trial of Survivor winner Richard Hatch.

A contractor testifying for the government said he built a home office and installed hardwood floors and new cabinets in the kitchen of Hatch's Middletown, R.I., home, among other improvements. Contractor Tim Downes also told jurors that he repaired the roof and installed skylights in a Newport home Hatch rented to college students.

Prosecutors say Hatch failed to pay taxes on his $1 million prize from the show and used $26,000 in donations made to Horizon Bound, a now-defunct charity he founded, to pay for the contractor's work.

On Wednesday Internal Revenue Service special agent Jason Rameaka testified that Hatch used the charity's bank account to write checks to friends as Christmas gifts and pay for cleaning bills. He drained all but $100 from the account, Rameaka said.

Hatch's lawyer, Michael Minns, has previously said Hatch spent more of his own money setting up Horizon Bound than he ever received in donations. He said Hatch was a bad bookkeeper, not a con man.

Michael Pleshaw, an IRS auditor, said Hatch owed almost $376,000 in taxes in 2002 when he won the $1 million prize. Instead, Hatch filed a return omitting the prize money and claiming a $4,483 refund. The following year, Pleshaw said, Hatch should have paid about $99,000 in income taxes, but the reality TV star filed for a $44,874 refund.

Defense lawyers were to begin calling their first witnesses later Thursday, and Hatch is expected to testify in his own defense by Friday. (AP)

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