Reality TV star Richard Hatch appeared in federal court Wednesday to face new accusations that he failed to refile his 2000 and 2001 tax returns, which would violate the terms of the supervised release he received following a tax evasion conviction.
Hatch was convicted in 2006 of failing to pay taxes on the $1 million prize he won on the first season of "Survivor" and spent more than three years in prison. Last year, he began a three-year period of supervised release and is supposed to refile and pay his taxes on the "Survivor" winnings and other income.
The federal probation office, which had been monitoring Hatch, has filed a complaint alleging that Hatch failed to refile his taxes. A hearing scheduled for Wednesday was postponed until Jan. 10 at the request of Hatch's public defender. Hatch could go back to jail for two years if a judge determines that he violated his probation.
Hatch did not speak in court but told reporters afterward that he expected the truth to come out in the hearing.
He would not directly answer when asked if he had refiled his tax returns, though he told The Providence Journal as recently as last month that the Internal Revenue Service had given him two $1,000 refund checks, and said that was "unequivocal proof" he owed nothing.
"I'm looking forward to the hearing. That's where you'll hear the facts," Hatch said, later adding, "This is the only way the facts actually get before the court."
U.S. District Judge William Smith told Hatch he considered the issue straightforward and would not let the hearing get "overcomplicated."
"We're not going to relitigate your trial," Smith said. "We're not going to litigate other issues you feel are important."
Hatch filed a motion last month seeking an early end to his supervised release and said he had complied with all of the conditions. His request was denied.
Barry Weiner, the chief U.S. probation officer in Rhode Island, said Hatch had more than enough time to refile his returns. He said cases on supervision come up for periodic review and that defendants are generally given time to meet all of the conditions.
"The system has given Mr. Hatch a year to come into compliance with supervised release," he said.
Hatch, who gained fame and wealth following his "Survivor" success, has been deemed eligible for a public defender. But even that did not go smoothly. On the standard request form asking defendants to swear that everything they have written is "true and correct," Hatch crossed out the word "true" and replaced it with the word "honest."
Smith ordered that a new form be drawn up.