Richard Hatch: GUILTY!by David Bloomberg -- 01/26/2006
The jury on the first Survivor didn’t take long to deliberate and came up with a closely split decision – four votes out of seven for Richard Hatch to win. Hatch’s latest appearance in front of a jury was similar – they deliberated for less than a day and ended with a split decision. Hatch was found guilty of three of the ten allegations leveled against him by prosecutors.
The three charges of which he was convicted were those that focused on Hatch’s failure to pay taxes – on his million-dollar Survivor prize, $327,000 he earned from a Boston radio show, and $28,000 in rent income. The other seven were related to bank, mail, and wire fraud charges, including those related to allegations that he misused funds that were directed to a charity he ran, Horizon Bound.
With the three convictions, Hatch faces a maximum sentence of 13 years in prison and $600,000 in fines. If he had been convicted on all ten counts, he could have faced 30 years in prison.
According to reports, Hatch took the news calmly and waved goodbye to his family before being handcuffed and taken immediately into custody because the judge decided he was a possible flight risk, in part due to his failure to account for a significant amount of money. The sentencing phase of his trial is scheduled for April 28, and because of the judge’s statement about Hatch being a flight risk, it appears he may stay in jail until that time.
In looking at the verdicts, it appears the jury went for the obvious but stayed away from the charges where they would have to weigh how much to believe Hatch as opposed to the prosecutors. Hatch admitted he had failed to pay taxes on his million-dollar prize – he made excuses for it, but there it was for the world to see. The fact that his accountants testified against him made it that much more obvious that, as the prosecutor said in his closing arguments, Hatch “didn’t want to pay the taxes he owed.” It was not, in the jury’s eyes, simply that Hatch was “the world’s worst bookkeeper,” as his defense attorney claimed.
Indeed, according to at least one juror, the evidence was clear and convincing for the tax charges. Robert Paquette, quoted by the Associated Press, said the jury did believe Hatch when he claimed to have questions about who was truly responsible for paying the taxes on his Survivor prize. However, the radio show and rental property income pushed them to a “guilty” verdict. He noted, “Even if you take the Survivor money out of there, there was still a lot of evidence.”
However, the charity-related charges were more difficult. Was he sloppy in keeping his own personal money separate from that of the charity? Undoubtedly. But did he purposely steal from Horizon Bound? Obviously, the jury could not find him guilty of that beyond a reasonable doubt. There were several iffy situations there that made things much more confusing. For example, he had explanations for the remodeling done to his home that linked it back to Horizon Bound. He said he spent a great deal of his own money on the charity and thus the suggestion was that any checks he wrong from charity money was really a reimbursement.
Hatch and everybody else will have to wait three months to find out what the final punishment is. One of his attorneys indicated he would appeal, but he also noted that Hatch knew it was always possible he could end up in jail, saying, “he’s prepared himself mentally and emotionally for this date.”
Time will tell just what kind of “Survivor” Richard Hatch is.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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