Richard Hatch’s lawyer said Friday that the “Survivor” winner caught his fellow reality-show contestants cheating, and when he told producers about it they struck a deal: They would pay the taxes on the million-dollar prize if Hatch won.
During a break in Hatch’s testimony, his attorney, Michael Minns, told U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres of his plans to have the first-ever winner of “Survivor” testify about the alleged deal. Hatch had been on the stand earlier Friday defending himself against charges that he failed to pay taxes on his “Survivor” winnings. Hatch won the first season of the hit CBS show, which aired in 2000.
But while questioning Hatch in front of jurors later in the day, Minns never asked his client to discuss the allegations — and wrapped up his questioning of Hatch on Friday afternoon without ever broaching the topic even though the judge never excluded the line of questioning. Minns and Hatch would not comment after court about the allegations.
Prosecutors began questioning Hatch Friday afternoon, and planned to resume Monday.
Minns told the judge that Hatch caught some of his fellow contestants trying to have friends sneak food to them on the island.
That was against the rules, Minns said, and Hatch said Friday that he never ate any food on the show that he didn’t catch or find himself, or win through a competition.
The show’s executive producer, Mark Burnett, testified earlier in the trial, but neither the defense nor prosecutors asked him about any such deal.
A spokesman for Burnett said he would have no comment while the trial is in progress. A CBS spokesman said it would not comment on the issue.
Two of Hatch’s first-season “Survivor” competitors said Friday they disagree completely with Hatch’s assertion. “What friends could bring them food? There ain’t no friends on the island,” Rudy Boesch told the Internet site TMZ.com.
Dr. Sean Kenniff, noting that he lost 30 pounds during the season-one “Survivor,” told TMZ he “never witnessed any cheating” by any contestants or production members.
Hatch is also accused of failing to pay taxes on hundreds of thousands of dollars of other income and using money donated to a charity on himself.
He faces a maximum sentence of 73 years in prison if convicted of all 10 charges he faces.
On Friday, Hatch spoke about how the behavioral problems of his son, Christopher, have weighed on him. Minns has said Hatch was distracted by problems with his son and was a terrible bookkeeper, but he never meant to commit tax fraud.