“Survivor” Richard Hatch, a man who successfully convinced his castmates to award him $1 million on TV, hopes he has done enough to convince a jury of his peers.
On Tuesday, the jurors in Hatch’s tax fraud trial began arguing whether or not Hatch knowingly failed to pay taxes on his prize money.
Hatch is charged with 10 counts of fraud and faces a maximum 73 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines if convicted of on all counts.
Jurors finished the working day without a verdict after meeting for a few hours, and were scheduled to resume Wednesday morning.
During closing arguments earlier Tuesday, Hatch’s attorney said his client was simply a poor bookkeeper who was not qualified to handle the large amount of money.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Reich told jurors a different story. He said Hatch didn’t pay taxes on the $1 million because he was greedy, and he said Hatch filed a tax return that omitted the winnings.
“There’s only one reason he filed the return, and it’s greed,” Reich said. “He didn’t want to pay the money he owed.”
Hatch’s attorney, Michael Minns, said the Survivor winner received poor advice from the accountants and lawyers who helped him prepare his tax return.
“I guarantee you there is no one in this courthouse who knows the entire tax code. It’s an impossibility. All you do is the best you can,” Minns told jurors.
Earlier in the trial, Minns argued the reality TV star believed producers or advertisers paid the taxes on his prize.
In one of the more interesting claims of the trial, Minns said producers had reached a deal with Hatch: They would pay the taxes on Hatch’s prize after he caught other contestants eating smuggled food. However, Hatch never testified about the allegations in front of the jury.
Another of Hatch’s attorneys, John MacDonald, said Tuesday that Hatch had no need to steal money from anyone. From 2000 to 2002, Hatch earned more than $1.5 million. MacDonald said Hatch was reimbursing himself for thousands of dollars he spent out of his own pocket on the charity, which he said was legal.
“He was wrong to do that,” MacDonald said. “That doesn’t mean he committed a crime.”