AP Photo/Steven Senne
AP Photo/Steven Senne
Now that he's back in the wild, Richard Hatch has a bone to pick with Uncle Sam. Make that several.
Hours after he was released from a Rhode Island correctional facility for tax evasion, the original Survivor champ and later Celebrity Apprentice scourge tells E! News exclusively about the "horrendous" living conditions he had to endure in the pokey the last few years and why he considers himself a victim of injustice by the legal system.
"It's very, very difficult to be absolutely innocent and continue to be persecuted the way I have been," Hatch tells E! News. "It's just a tragedy. People don't understand how broken our court systems are and particularly corrupt the system in Rhode Island is."
Hatch, 50, spent three years in the Big House after being convicted in 2006 of failing to pay his taxes on the $1 million prize he won on Survivor as well as on a $350,000 fee he netted from a radio gig and other earnings. He was freed in 2009 and ordered to refile his 2000 and 2001 taxes. But he ended up doing an additional nine months this year after a federal judge found that he had failed to do so, a charge that the reality TV villain adamantly maintains is false.
"I have filed my returns every year of my life," said Hatch. "I''ve paid every penny that I've every owed in taxes and I was convicted of attempting to evade taxes about 11 years later, it's 2011, and they still have not been determined to be due."
According to the former corporate trainer, who made waves on Survivor for naked walks on the beach and deviousness that earned him the nickname "the snake," he's got a CPA and a tax attorney working on his behalf to clear the matter up with the IRS.
He also claims that his sexual orientation as a gay man was the driving force as to why the prosecutor and the judge went after him, noting that jurors were not asked in their questionnaires about their feelings about homosexuality.
"I believe it's because I'm unconventional," adds Hatch. "It's people who are outside the norm and I am in a number of ways. What happened to me in the courtroom shows that [the gay community] is being treated as less than and it's just wrong. It's a civil rights issue."
Gay card, you've officially been played.
Now that he's got his freedom back, Hatch says he's now hired an investigative reporter to write a tell-all that will reveal the true facts of his case and subsequent persecution, and allow people to "begin to feel something other than 'it's that fat naked guy from Survivor.'"
As far as his future's concerned (and no doubt his pocketbook), Hatch also revealed that he has hatched a deal for a reality show—with whom he didn't reveal—that will focus on his children.
Yes, you heard right.
"I was a sperm donor in college and I have quite a few children, two of whom have already made contact with me," the former Tagi tribesman explained. "And I think people will be fascinated to see their lives and what happens in the whole realm of donor offspring siblings."
While the show doesn't have a distributor yet, Hatch says there are a couple of networks interested in the program.
As for which was worse, Survivor or prison, Hatch wouldn't say.
UPDATE FEB. 8, 2012: Crime doesn't pay, it costs. A judge rejected a request from Hatch to pay the IRS a reduced payment in the amount of just $25 for the month of January, despite his claim of financial hardship.