Richard Hatch, the first winner of CBS' "Survivor," said Friday he thought the network was responsible for paying the taxes on his $1-million prize and that's why he didn't pay them. He told an interviewer he was "absolutely not guilty."
Prosecutors have charged Hatch with filing false 2000 and 2001 tax returns, omitting his income from the reality show, as well as $321,000 he was paid by a Boston radio station.
Hatch, who lives in Newport, R.I., backed out of a plea agreement last week, and the U.S. attorney's office in Providence dropped the charges and turned the case over to a grand jury.
Hatch's lawyer, Michael Minns, said that under California law, Hatch should have been classified as a CBS employee and therefore CBS was responsible for withholding taxes from his winnings.
In an e-mail statement, CBS said: "Richard Hatch was well aware of his obligation to pay taxes on his 'Survivor' prize money."