'Survivor' winner Hatch indicted for tax evasion
BOSTON (Reuters) - A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted Richard Hatch, who took home $1 million as the first winner of the CBS hit reality show "Survivor," for tax evasion, bank fraud and other charges.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Providence, Rhode Island, accused Hatch, a motivational speaker, of failing to report the $1 million winnings in 2000 and about $391,000 he earned from half a dozen other sources.
The 10-count indictment follows a grand jury investigation that began in March when Hatch backed out of a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to two tax evasion charges that carried a maximum 10-year jail sentence and a $500,000 fine.
Hatch, who wandered around naked on the show and was once described by a fellow contestant as a "snake," said he was innocent in March. He was not immediately available for comment following the new list of charges released by prosecutors in Rhode Island.
If convicted on all counts, the 44-year-old Newport, Rhode Island, native would face a maximum fine of $1.35 million and 73 years in prison.
Eight of the charges carry a maximum sentence of five years each in prison, one has a three-year sentence and another bank fraud charge carries a maximum 30-year jail sentence, said Tom Connell, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney in Rhode Island.
A summons was issued for Hatch to appear before a U.S. magistrate for arraignment.
The first "Survivor" became a ratings sensation for CBS and helped spark a boom in reality-based TV shows.
In television and radio interviews aired in March, Hatch's lawyer said CBS should have withheld federal taxes for the game show contestant because the network should have classified him as an employee under California law.
CBS, a unit of Viacom Inc., has said that Hatch alone was responsible for declaring his winnings to the federal government and paying his taxes.