The lawyer for "Survivor" winner Richard Hatch said Wednesday that her client was taken to jail because he granted two TV interviews without getting the required permission from the federal Bureau of Prisons.
Hatch had been serving the remainder of his prison term for tax evasion on home confinement at his sister's home in Rhode Island. He granted three television interviews this week — to TODAY's Matt Lauer, NBC affiliate WJAR-TV and the NBC-owned "Access Hollywood."
In the interviews, Hatch accused the prosecutor of misconduct and said the judge in the case discriminated against him because he was gay.
The Bureau of Prisons would not comment on Hatch's case, but spokeswoman Traci Billingsley said prisoners on home confinement cannot grant interviews without first getting permission. Approval typically takes a few days, she said.
Hatch's lawyer, Cynthia Ribas, said she had thought the permission Hatch got extended to all NBC properties, but federal rules consider each media outlet separate. Ribas said a lawyer for the Bureau of Prisons told her Wednesday that it had given permission for the TODAY interview, but not the other two.
"I think this is a little misunderstanding that really has to do with the lawyer and the bureau and NBC's communications," Ribas said.
Extensive permission process
All three interviews were filmed Monday at Hatch's sister's house in Newport, Ribas said. WJAR aired a small part of the interview Monday night, and more on Tuesday morning. The TODAY interview was aired Tuesday morning and the interview with "Access Hollywood" aired after Hatch was taken in by a sheriff's deputy Tuesday afternoon.
Ribas said she and Hatch went through an extensive process to get permission to do the TODAY interview. She said that months ago when Hatch was in a halfway house, she had asked the Bureau of Prisons for permission to do four interviews, including with other TV networks, and they asked her to pare it down to one. Hatch chose NBC.
Ribas said the Bureau of Prisons then asked NBC to fill out paperwork to request permission for an interview. They got word last week that the interview was granted, she said.
Chris Lanni, content brand manager for WJAR-TV, the local NBC affiliate, said the station did not deal with the Bureau of Prisons, but arranged its interview through NBC Universal.
"We asked Hatch if he had permission, and he did," Lanni said.
Hatch also called in twice to a show on WPRO-AM on Tuesday. Ribas said the Bureau of Prisons lawyer did not address that interview when he told her why Hatch was taken in.
Hatch was being held at the Barnstable County jail in Massachusetts. Billingsley said prisoners who are jailed after breaking the rules of home confinement could be moved back to a prison, to a halfway house or returned to home confinement after a hearing with a disciplinary officer.
Hatch was convicted in 2006 of failing to pay taxes on the $1 million he was awarded for winning the first season of the CBS reality show. He was given extra prison time for lying on the stand.
A ‘tense phone call’
Hatch’s sister, Kristin Hatch, appeared on TODAY on Wednesday morning and described her brother's arrest. Speaking to Lauer from her home in Newport, she said a sheriff’s deputy and another official arrived at her house within hours of the airing of Hatch's TODAY interview.
Kristin Hatch said that her brother told the deputy, “Do what you need to do, just tell me why.”
“I heard him tell Rich that he [Hatch] did an interview, and that’s why he was going back to prison,” Kristin Hatch told Lauer.
Lauer had interviewed Hatch on Monday for the TODAY segment that ran Tuesday morning. While Hatch was preparing for the interview, Kristin Hatch said she got what she characterized as a “tense phone call” from a local sheriff’s deputy. The deputy demanded to speak to Hatch immediately. When his sister said that he was in the shower, “he was adamant that I hand Rich the phone in the shower, which I did,” she told Lauer.
After getting out of the shower, Hatch spoke with Ribas. “Cynthia got on the phone with the BOP and assured us everything was fine,” Kristin Hatch said.
‘I will pay’
During the Tuesday interview with Lauer, his first since being released to house arrest in March, Hatch proclaimed his innocence and repeated his contention that he was the victim of prosecutorial misconduct and discrimination because he is gay.
“Is it possible it is less about that Richard did an interview and more about what Richard said in that interview?” Lauer asked Ribas Wednesday.
“I don’t think so, but I really don’t know. Everything Rich said is public record,” Ribas replied.
Ribas compared Hatch to Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the former boxer who was released after spending 20 years in prison in New Jersey for three murders that he said he never committed. Bob Dylan helped win Carter’s release by writing a song about the case.