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'Survivor' winner Richard Hatch arrested and jailed after interviews


By Christopher Rocchio, 08/19/2009 

Richard Hatch's big mouth has apparently gotten him into trouble.

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The original Survivor winner was arrested Tuesday afternoon by the federal Bureau of Prisons for "improper contact with the public" following several media interviews earlier this week, The Today Show reported Wednesday.

While Hatch had allegedly received permission from the federal Bureau of Prisons to tape interviews with NBC's The Today Show, Access Hollywood syndicated entertainment program and WJAR-TV affiliate in Providence, RI on Monday, he also called into a Rhode Island talk radio program twice after the Today interview aired on Tuesday morning. 

John DePetro, the host of the WPRO-AM radio program Hatch called into, told The Associated Press the station had not asked the bureau's permission to speak with Hatch because the Survivor winner called the program (which had been discussing the Today interview) on his own.

Hatch is currently being held at the Barnstable County Sheriff's Office in Bourne, MA, and his attorney Cynthia Ribas said she was unsure why her client was being detained.

"I have spoken to Richard, and I'm so sorry to say I don't really know what the grounds are for why they have him back in jail," Ribas said during Wednesday morning's The Today Show broadcast. 

"I haven't had any response yet to my very many phone calls to all of my contacts at the bureau, as well as at the Barnstable County Sheriff's Office. I also of course talked to the jail to see if someone could explain to me why they have taken Rich into custody."

The Barnstable County Sheriff's Office has a contract with the Bureau of Prisons to hold federal inmates, however it was unable to shed any additional light on the reason for Hatch's arrest,

"We just don't have the same kind of details on the federal inmates we book as we do with the regular city and county inmates," Sheriff's Office spokesman Roy Lyons said in a report posted on The Today Show's website.  "It's got to be that he violated some kind of condition. There's no other reason this would have happened."

Hatch's sister Kristin -- who lives next door to the Survivor: Borneo champ in Newport, RI -- said she received a call from the sheriff prior to The Today Show interview.

"Initially in the morning when [Today] was here to set-up for the interview, we received a phone call at my house and the sheriff demanded that I get Rich.  I explained to him that he was in the shower, and he was adamant that I hand him the phone in the shower right at that moment.  So I did," Kristin told The Today Show on Wednesday. 

"I could hear Rich's end, saying that he had permission, that he didn't know what he was talking about and that he would need to speak to the [federal Bureau of Prisons] and his attorney, but it had already been cleared and everything was set to go."

Kristin claims Hatch then spoke to his attorney, who contacted the federal Bureau of Prisons and assured him that everything was fine.  However after The Today Show interview aired Tuesday morning, Hatch was arrested.

"The sheriff knocked on the door, which he typically does once a week.  He usually calls first, and actually yesterday they just knocked at the door.  When I went up to the door, he came in with another gentleman around seven-feet tall fully dressed in a uniform, which he had never come there with before," explained Kristin. 

"They walked down the stairs and told Rich that he needed to go with them, that they were taking him back to prison.  Rich said, 'Do what you need to do, could you just tell me why?'  He was more concerned with finding the battery for the ankle bracelet than giving Rich an explanation at that point.  As he sent me off to get the ankle bracelet, I heard him tell Rich he did an interview and that's why he was going back to prison."

During his interviews, Hatch -- who is gay -- accused the judge in his 2006 tax evasion case of sexual discrimination and also accused federal prosecutors of misconduct.

Hatch's unapproved WPRO calls were in response to a Tuesday morning call to the radio station by former U.S. Attorney Robert Clark Corrente, whose office prosecuted Hatch in 2006.  Corrente described Hatch's allegations of prosecutorial misconduct as "ludicrous."

"The guy is delusional," Corrente told DePetro.  "I think it's preposterous. The evidence was this guy got a six-foot Styrofoam check for $1 million on national television and never paid his taxes. It wasn't really that complicated. His sexual orientation didn't have anything to do with it."

In addition, Corrente said he believes Hatch was "properly convicted by the jury" based on the evidence presented.

"The decision was upheld by the district court, it was upheld by the court of appeals," added Corrente.  "For him to now try to paint himself as a victim of discrimination based on sexual orientation is frankly delusional."

Hatch subsequently told DePetro he was unsurprised about the way Corrente responded to his allegations.

"Robert Corrente is the ringleader of the prosecutorial misconduct that took place," Hatch told DePetro.  "If indeed that person is a bigot, what else would he say?  I don't know that he is [a bigot], I know in court he was unprofessional and I know he was the ringleader of the prosecutorial misconduct against me.  But what else could he say at this point."

Hatch also reiterated his claims that he hadn't been assessed by the IRS for taxes owed in 2000 and thus couldn't have been "fairly" prosecuted for tax evasion.

"There is no crime.  I have never, ever not paid a penny of taxes that I've owed.  The IRS supports me on this.  It's in writing.  Never, ever have I owed a penny of taxes that I have not paid," Hatch told DePetro.

"Each month I meet with the IRS with my accountant, and the IRS expects that it's still going to be some time -- they say in a reasonable amount of time they expect we will determine an assessment.  We will make an assessment for those years, 2000 and 2001.  It will be nowhere near the threshold for prison time."

Hatch also stood by his accusation that federal judge Ernest C. Torres prohibited his lawyer from polling the jury about their feelings on homosexuality.

"The judge in the case disallowed questions from my attorney... in choosing jurors about their feelings towards homosexuals," explained Hatch.  "So I have no idea what the jurors thought about people who are gay.  I don't even question any of those feelings.  My concern is that at the start of the trial, this judge exercised indiscretion to disallow questions about homosexuality after I came out on the show in front of 54 million viewers."

The 48-year-old added he was also unfairly convicted because of his sexual orientation.

"There isn't any question from any objective observer that if I'd been a straight, white male -- if I'd been any other person almost -- that this wouldn't have happened," said Hatch.  "This never happened in the history of the United States, that somebody has served this amount of time for an amount of taxes owed that hasn't been determined but that the prosecuting attorneys have exaggerated to the point of making the judge believe it requires jail time."

Hatch added that Corrente was "diverting public attention" away from his accusations by claiming he's delusional for still harping on the conviction.

"He diverted it... He knows full well being such a long-standing member of the justice system that there are many, many, many things that go wrong in a trial and that a defendant doesn't decide what their attorney does," Hatch told DePetro about Corrente. 

"Often, it isn't until this point in time -- when the appeals have been completed -- that the individual himself, me in this case, gets the chance to expose those things that have gone wrong.  That's what's happening now."

Despite Hatch's strong accusations during his television and radio appearances, Ribas said she doesn't think the content of the interviews could have landed her client back behind bars.

"I don't think so, but I really don't know," she said on The Today Show.  "Everything Richard said is public record.  That is our best understanding of the case, that it's a combination of prosecutorial misconduct and discrimination based on sexual orientation."

(Photo credit CBS)


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