Friday, January 20, 2006
The tax evasion trial of Richard Hatch, the first Survivor winner, may take a strange turn if Hatch testifies in accord with a statement made by his lawyer. An AP story (here) states that during a break in Hatch's testimony in federal court in Rhode Island for not reporting the $1 million prize and other payments he received in 2000, Michael MInns, the defense lawyer, told the court that Hatch made a deal with Survivor's producers that they would pay taxes on the prize if he did not report that other contestants secretly received food from friends during the filming of the program. Hatch has not yet mentioned the purported deal in his testimony, which will continue after a weekend break. Of course, any deal with the producers would not necessarily absolve him of his reporting duty, but it could undermine his intent, and Minns has described Hatch as the "world's worst bookkeeper."
The tax evasion charges against Hatch also include the failure to report a payment by a Boston radio station and alleged diversion of funds from a charity he controlled, so any deal with the Survivor producers would not cover that income. Nor did it help his case when an accountant testified that she told Hatch he had to report the $1 million prize, with no apparent mention of the side deal. If he did make the heretofore undisclosed deal, he might not be quite as bad a tax planner as he is a bookkeeper. (ph)