PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Richard Hatch, who won $1 million in the debut season of "Survivor," has been sentenced to 51 months in prison for failing to pay taxes on his reality TV prize and other income.
U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres said he believed Hatch had repeatedly committed perjury on the witness stand during his trial in January.
"There's no nice way to say it: Mr. Hatch lied," Torres said, later adding that Hatch took a serious offense and made it worse by offering deliberately false testimony.
In addition to the "Survivor" prize, Hatch, 45, of Newport, was convicted of evading taxes on $327,000 he earned as co-host of a Boston radio show and $28,000 in rent on property he owned. The charges carried a maximum of 13 years in prison.
"I believe I've been completely truthful and completely forthcoming throughout the entire process," Hatch told Torres before he was sentenced.
Hatch pleaded ignorance about money matters during the trial. He said he forgot to tell his accountants about some income and claimed he thought the show's producers would pay his taxes.
He appeared upbeat after learning he was headed to prison for more than four years, shaking hands with his lawyers and greeting family members, then calling out, "See you later, Mom."
"What it looks like to me is he still doesn't get it -- and maybe someday he will," U.S. Attorney Robert Clark Corrente told reporters outside court.
Hatch's attorney, Michael Minns, portrayed him as a bumbling bookkeeper overwhelmed with sudden fame and wealth who never intended to commit a crime. Minns said Hatch was appealing and had told the truth at trial.
Hatch was also sentenced to three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay taxes still owed for 2000 and 2001 and to undergo counseling. He has been held since his conviction because Torres said he was a flight risk. The Bureau of Prisons will decide later where he will serve his term.
Hatch became known as "the fat naked guy" for refusing to wear clothes for much of the CBS show. He sowed seeds of conflict among his fellow contestants, and an estimated 51 million viewers were watching when he received his winning check.
At times, Hatch seemed to handle his criminal case like an extended reality TV competition. He abruptly walked away from a plea deal with prosecutors and pleaded his innocence to Katie Couric on the "Today" show.