"Survivor" Hatch Sentenced

Original Survivor winner Richard Hatch sentenced to four years, three months in prison for tax evasion, perjury

By Sarah Hall May 16, 2006 6:30 PMTags

This should really put Richard Hatch's survival skills to the test.

The original Survivor winner was sentenced Tuesday to four years and three months in prison for tax evasion and perjury.

Hatch received a harsher sentence than expected because of the prosecution's contention that he lied about failing to pay taxes on his reality earnings as well as other sources of income, including $327,000 he earned as cohost of a Boston radio show and $28,000 in rent on property he owned. The charges carried a maximum penalty of 13 years behind bars and a $600,000 fine.

At the time he was convicted, U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres said he expected to sentence Hatch to 33 to 41 months. But after reviewing the evidence, Torres elected to impose a stricter sentence after finding Hatch repeatedly perjured himself on the stand.

"It seems, unfortunately, very clear to me that Mr. Hatch lied," Torres said Tuesday.

Hatch's defense strategy included claiming he believed Survivor producers were going to pick up the taxes on his winnings and painting himself as simply the "world's worst bookkeeper."

At least he believed his story.

"I believe I've been completely truthful and completely forthcoming throughout the entire process," Hatch told the court Tuesday before he was sentenced.

Unfortunately for the man whom David Letterman once dubbed the "fat, naked guy," no one agreed with him.

Had he played the game differently, Hatch, who has been living in solitary confinement at a Plymouth, Massachusetts, jail since January, could potentially have avoided jail time altogether.

In March 2005, the former motivational speaker walked away from a plea deal that would have entailed him pleading guilty to two counts of filing false tax returns. In return, the U.S. attorney's office in Providence, Rhode Island, would have recommended the most lenient sentence for the charges.

Instead, Hatch decided to attempt to outwit, outlast and outplay the federal government and ultimately lost the immunity challenge.