Gov't recommends jail for "Survivor" champ Hatch

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Associated Press

Posted on January 31, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 1 at 5:00 AM

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Reality TV star Richard Hatch, who spent more than three years in prison for tax evasion, should go back behind bars for violating the conditions of his supervised release, federal prosecutors recommended Monday.

Hatch was convicted in 2006 of failing to pay taxes on the $1 million prize he won on the debut season of "Survivor," the CBS reality TV show. He was released from prison in 2009 and placed on a three-year term of supervised release.

Federal probation officials accused Hatch last month of violating the terms of his release by failing to file amended tax returns for the years 2000 and 2001, something he was ordered to do when he was sentenced to prison more than four years ago. A judge agreed that Hatch was in violation but withheld punishment until he could hear more from both sides.

Hatch, who owes about $1.7 million in back taxes, has said he didn't refile his taxes because he has an appeal pending with the U.S. Tax Court. His lawyer, Mary McElroy, argued in court papers Monday that Hatch was merely following proper procedure in not submitting new returns while his appeal was pending and asked the judge to keep him out of jail.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Reich did not specify how long he wants Hatch behind bars, though he faces up to roughly two years — or the remainder of his supervised release. He said Hatch has a pattern of lying and defying court orders,

"The defendant's punishment for violating the terms of his supervised release should take into account the fact that the defendant has failed to accept responsibility for his conduct, that he has disregarded the order of the court, and that he has continued to make false representations to the court just as he did during his trial," Reich wrote.

Hatch became reality TV's first villain when he bested the "Survivor" competition with a beguiling mix of intelligence and ruthlessness.

He was charged in 2005 in Rhode Island, where he lives, with failing to pay taxes on his "Survivor" prize and other income. He was sentenced to 51 months in prison, with a judge giving him extra time for lying on the stand.

Hatch, who is openly gay, has since complained that he was unfairly prosecuted in part because of his sexuality — a charge prosecutors say is absurd.

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