'Survivor' Hatch Says He's No Tax Cheat

The show's first $1 million winner pleads not guilty to tax evasion on Monday

Richard Hatch, Survivor‘s first $1 million winner, on Monday entered a plea of not guilty to charges that he skipped out on paying taxes on his windfall from the CBS show as well as on additional earnings amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Hatch, 44, has been charged with tax evasion, filing a false tax return, wire fraud, bank fraud and mail fraud, and was released on $50,000 bond. A judge restricted his travel to Rhode Island, where Hatch resides, and Houston, where his lawyer’s office is located. Hatch was also ordered to surrender his passport, reports the Associated Press.

Before Monday s hearing, Hatch – who is also accused of using donations made to his charity for personal expenses – called the accusations absurd and told reporters: “I’ve never taken a penny from a charity, and they know it. I’ve always paid my taxes, and they know it.”

A grand jury indictment filed earlier this month said Hatch filed false 2000 and 2001 tax returns and omitted his seven-figure income from the reality show, another $327,000 from a Boston radio gig and $28,000 in rent collected from a property he owns in Newport.

Hatch had two accountants prepare tax returns for 2000 that included his Survivor winnings, but he did not file them when he learned he would owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes, the indictment said. In 2002, he had one of the accountants prepare a second return that did not include his winnings from the TV show. He filed that one, which called for a $4,500 refund, the indictment said, according to AP.

The grand jury also accused Hatch of misusing $36,500 from a nonprofit camp he established, allegedly keeping for himself a $10,000 donation made for his appearance on the NBC game show Weakest Link.

If convicted, Hatch faces a maximum of 75 years in prison. He also could face millions of dollars in fines.

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