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'Survivor' winner Richard Hatch violated terms of release, says Judge

01/10/2011 by Kristina Lopez

Richard Hatch, who is best known as the winner of the first season of "Survivor," is once again in legal trouble.

U.S. District Judge William Smith ruled on Monday that the former reality star violated the terms of his supervised release by failing to refile his amended tax returns, according to the Associate Press. Smith said he had not decided if he was going to sentence Hatch for more jail time. Instead, he delayed sentencing until he could receive additional arguments.

Hatch was convicted in 2006 of failing to pay taxes on the $1 million prize he won in the first season of the CBS reality show. As a result, he spent more than three years in federal prison and was then placed on three years of supervised release. He was released in 2009 and has been living in Newport.

Federal authorities accuse the one-time reality star of violating the conditions of his release by failing to file amended tax returns for the 2000 and 2001, which was required by the judge at the time of his sentencing.

Smith said he could put Hatch back in jail for the remaining two years of his release if he finds that Hatch intentionally violated the terms of his freedom, as prosecutors allege.

Hatch owed about $1.7 million in taxes for 2000 and 2001, including interest and penalties, according to the wire service which quotes the Internal Revenue Service.

Mary McElroy, Hatch's public defender, said "He has the right to go through that process. He's been cooperating with that process."

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Reich argues Hatch had an opportunity to refile his tax returns before he appealed to the U.S. Tax Court. "Instead, Mr. Hatch took the view that he was going to continue to fight the IRS, that he was going to continue to raise the ridiculous arguments that he raised during the trial," Reich said according to the wire service.

The Associated Press reports that Hatch said outside court he was grateful the judge was willing to listen to his position. He added that the government had been "trying to paint me in a light that's not true."

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