Curtis, founder of USA Harvest, hospitalized with infection and facing federal charges


by WHAS11 Staff

Posted on September 26, 2012 at 5:43 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 27 at 12:32 PM

(WHAS11) -- Family members of Stan Curtis are confirming what others told WHAS11 on Wednesday. According to Curtis' family he has been hospitalized in Louisville since Monday with an infection from an unknown source. They say he is in very serious condition and that his prognosis is unknown at this time.

Curtis, the founder of a Louisville charity that grew nationwide, is facing federal charges Wednesday night.

Stan Curtis is probably the best known name in giving to food pantries this community has ever seen.

Tonight he's accused of stealing  thousands of dollars in donations from U.S.A. Harvest.

“The President of the United States is coming. We've got celebrities,” Curtis proudly proclaims in the 1992 file video we found in the WHAS-11 News archive.

During his decades of community outreach, Stan Curtis always thought big.

He drew praise for his charitable organizations from both presidents George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton.

He rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange with Hillary Duff to promote his latest charity “Blessings in a Backpack”.

Curtis also helped attract major golfing events like the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup to Louisville.

“The eyes of the world literally will be on Louisville, KY in 2008,” Curtis said when announcing the selection of Valhalla Country Club as the site of the event, while golfing with friend Greg Norman..

But his biggest accomplishment by far was growing U.S.A. Harvest from a small local  organization which united those who had extra food with those who needed it, to a network of hundreds of thousands of volunteers distributing billions of pounds of food to the poor.

U.S.A. Harvest claims to have distributed more than 435 billion pounds of food in the past 26 years… about 60 pounds for every man, woman and child currently living on earth.

But in the process of all that, federal prosecutors say Curtis enriched himself.

In a complaint released Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney alleges that Curtis stole more than $183,354 in intended donations,-failed to report more than a half a million dollars in income and fraudulently deducted more than $350,000 in travel expenses.

Curtis was an investment banker, before focusing completely on his charities after his retirement.

In the latest tax form submitted for blessings in a backpack, it indicates the organization paid him $240,000 a year
Attorney Steve Pence represents Kentucky Harvest and Blessings in a Backpack.

Neither organization was named in the complaint.

“I think all the board members and people affiliated with Kentucky harvest and blessings in a backpack were surprised and a bit disappointed with what we learned today,” Pence said.

Click here to read the charges.


Full news release:

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.