USA Harvest Founder Stan Curtis Facing Federal Felony Charges

The founder of Louisville-based USA Harvest is charged in federal court with mail fraud, money laundering and filing false income tax returns.

Stan Curtis is accused of stealing more than $183,000 in donations he solicited for the charity, which collects and distributes food for the needy. He’s also charged with failing to report the money as income with the IRS, along with more than $370,000 in travel expenses he allegedly charged to USA Harvest.

In a press release, the U.S. Attorney says the alleged crimes took place from late 2005 through 2008. Curtis is charged in a seven-count felony bill of information rather than an indictment, which could mean a plea agreement is in the works.

According to its website, USA Harvest was founded in 1989 in Louisville as Kentucky Harvest and now has more than 125,000 volunteers nationwide. The U.S. Attorney says none of the charities Curtis has been associated with, USA Harvest, Kentucky Harvest and Blessings in a Backpack, have been accused of wrongdoing or impropriety.

The charges against Curtis carry a maximum sentence of 52 years in prison and fines of more than $1.1 million.    Curtis had not commented publicly on the charges as of Wednesday afternoon.

Here is the press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – USA Harvest founder, Hugh “Stan” Curtis was charged in a seven-count felony Information today, with mail fraud, money laundering and filing false income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service, announced David J. Hale, United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky.

According to the Information, filed in U.S. District Court today, from September 2005 through September 2007, defendant Curtis, 63, of Louisville, Kentucky, allegedly stole $183,354 in donations that he solicited on behalf of USA Harvest, a non-profit, I.R.C. 501 (c) organization. Of these stolen donations, Curtis deposited $164,620 into his personal account and personally cashed donation checks totaling $18,734 – and thereafter used the funds for his personal benefit. The $164,620 includes an August 29, 2007, donation for $20,000 from Play Like the Pros, LLC and a September 5, 2007, donation for $25,000 from Richemont North America, Inc. In addition, Curtis did not report the $183,354 as income with the Internal Revenue Service.

Further, from 2005 through 2008, it is alleged in the Information, that defendant Curtis failed to report to the Internal Revenue Service approximately $553,891.67 in personal income he received from USA Harvest. The amount includes the $183,354 in stolen donations and $370,537.67 in personal travel expenses that he charged to USA Harvest. More particularly, Curtis used approximately $370,537.67 in USA Harvest funds to pay for personal meals, personal entertainment expenses, and personal travel. In addition, Curtis fraudulently deducted approximately $353,165 in unreimbursed USA Harvest travel expenses on his 2005 through 2007 returns.

Counts four through seven of the Information charge Curtis with filing false returns with the Internal Revenue Service. In 2005, Curtis failed to report approximately $160,549.56 in income and falsely deducted approximately $134,623 in unreimbursed travel expenses from USA Harvest on his 2005 federal income tax return filed on April 15, 2006. For the year 2006 Curtis failed to report approximately $217,085.18 income and falsely deducted approximately $130,739 in unreimbursed travel expenses from USA Harvest on his 2006 federal income tax return filed on May 9, 2007. For the year 2007 Curtis failed to report approximately $97,264.48 and falsely deducted approximately $87,803 in unreimbursed travel expenses from USA Harvest on his federal income tax return filed on April 15, 2008. For the year 2008 Curtis failed to report approximately $78,992.45 in income from USA Harvest on his 2008 federal income tax return filed on October 16, 2009. The return was filed by Curtis and signed under the penalty of perjury.

None of the charities Curtis has been associated with – USA Harvest, Kentucky Harvest, and Blessings In A Backpack – have been accused of any wrongdoing or impropriety. The only charitable organization to have suffered any loss as a result of the conduct charged in the Information, was USA Harvest.

At sentencing, Curtis faces a combined maximum term of 52 years in prison, a combined maximum fine of $1,150,000, and a three-year term of supervised release.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bryan Calhoun and was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations Division.

Rick Howlett

Rick Howlett is WFPL's Broadcast Managing Editor and also produces feature and general assignment radio stories.

@rickhowlett

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