Providence, R.I — Reality show star Richard Hatch is merely the "world's worst bookkeeper," not the tax evader that prosecutors make him out to be, his attorney said Thursday as the "Survivor" winner's tax fraud trial got under way.
Prosecutor Andrew Reich told jurors the government would prove Hatch willfully failed to report his $1 million winnings from the CBS show to avoid paying more than $200,000 in taxes.
On the show, Hatch become known as a cunning and ruthless competitor who was nude during much of the inaugural season of "Survivor" in 2000.
His attorney, Michael Minns, argued Thursday that Hatch was struggling with his newfound fame after winning the contest, was overwhelmed by false child abuse charges and was relying on the advice of a self-employed accountant who was "in over her head."
"Richard Hatch is not a stupid man," Minns said. "He is the world's worst bookkeeper, bar none."
Federal prosecutors say Hatch filed false tax returns for 2000 and 2001 that omitted his income from the reality show, as well as $327,000 he earned as a co-host on a Boston radio show and $28,000 in rent on a property he owns in Newport.
Hatch pleaded not guilty to charges of tax evasion, filing a false tax return, wire fraud, bank fraud and mail fraud.
Hatch has said he believed CBS was responsible for paying the taxes. CBS has said Hatch knew he was responsible for the taxes.