LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The founder of USA Harvest was charged Wednesday with failing to pay taxes on $553,891.67 from 2005 through 2008 — including funds prosecutors say he stole from the charity and personal expenses he billed to the organization.
In a bill of information, 63-year-old Hugh "Stan" Curtis of Louisville is charged with taking $183,354 in donations from the charity and charging $370,537.67 in personal travel expenses. He faces charges of mail fraud, money laundering and filing false income tax returns.
Louisville attorney Scott Cox is representing Curtis, who founded the organization in 1989 as Kentucky Harvest in Louisville. Cox said Curtis should make an initial appearance early in the coming week, but no court date was immediately set.
"I think this is a case that will be resolved very quickly," Cox said in a phone interview.
Messages left for Kentucky Harvest, Blessings in a Backpack and multiple organizations Curtis has been involved with were not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon. Prosecutors use a bill of information to charge someone without going before a federal grand jury.
None of the charities Curtis has been associated with were implicated in any wrongdoing.
USA Harvest uses volunteers to pick up surplus food from restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and various other food suppliers and deliver it to missions, soup kitchens, shelters and people in need.
The group's efforts have drawn assistance from the Goo Goo Dolls, who used to pick up food in their concerts in benefit of the organization and actress Scarlett Johansson, whose photo is featured on the organization's web site.
Nell Alano, who runs novelty car magnet company Grateful Graffiti in Beverly Hills, Calif., helped USA Harvest with several promotions in the past. Alano described herself "a little in shock" over the news that Curtis had been charged.
"He was always lovely and very upbeat," Alano said. "He really seemed to hold this whole mission so close to heart. I'm really floored, really."
According to the information filed in a Louisville federal court, from September 2005 through September 2007, Curtis failed to report to the Internal Revenue Service about $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.
Prosecutors say Curtis used the $370,537.67 in USA Harvest funds to pay for personal meals, personal entertainment expenses, and personal travel. In addition, prosecutors say, Curtis fraudulently deducted approximately $353,165 in unreimbursed USA Harvest travel expenses on his 2005 through 2007 returns.
On the website of USA Harvest, Curtis said the charity serves more than 5,400 agencies nationwide.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.