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'Survivor' winner Richard Hatch completes prison sentence, released


By Christopher Rocchio, 10/16/2009 

Richard Hatch is finally a free man.

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The original Survivor winner was released from Barnstable County jail in Bourne, MA shortly before 6AM on Friday after completing his 51-month federal tax evasion sentence, The Associated Press reported.

Sheriff spokesman Roy Lyons said Hatch was driven by deputies to his home in Newport, RI and arrived around 7:30AM, according to The AP.

The 48-year-old Hatch will now serve three years of supervised release and will not be able to leave Rhode Island without permission, the state's chief U.S. probation officer Barry Weiner told The AP, adding Hatch must also check in regularly with his probation officer.

In addition, Weiner told The AP Hatch must also find a job, complete a mental health program, refile his 2000 and 2001 tax returns and pay all his back taxes.

Hatch received a 51-month federal prison sentence following his January 2006 tax eviction conviction for failing to pay taxes on the $1 million prize he received for winning Survivor's first season in 2000. 

He was then arrested on August 18 while serving the final few months of his sentence on home confinement a day after he participated in several media interviews.

Although Hatch had received permission to tape an interview with NBC's The Today Show, the Bureau of Prison claimed it had not given him permission to conduct two additional interviews with NBC's Access Hollywood syndicated entertainment news program and the network's WJAR-TV affiliate in Providence, RI, according to his lawyer Cynthia Ribas.

In addition to the unapproved television interviews, Hatch also called into a Rhode Island talk radio program twice after the Today interview aired -- which he also did not receive permission for.

According to Ribas, she and Hatch believed the bureau's permission extended to all NBC properties when The Today Show interview was approved.  However that was not the case, as Ribas stated she was eventually told by a bureau lawyer that federal rules consider each media outlet separate.

The American Civil Liberties Union subsequently requested a federal judge release Hatch from prison during a September hearing -- arguing that Hatch was arrested due to retaliation for criticizing the government during the media interviews, in which he claimed he was discriminated against by the trial judge during his 2006 tax evasion conviction.

However a judge denied the request, ruling that Hatch had violated Federal Bureau of Prisons' rules when he participated in the unapproved media interviews.

Hatch is currently living with his sister, who declined comment Friday and instructed a reporter to leave her property, The AP reported.

(Photo credit CBS)


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