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USA Harvest founder guilty of embezzlement, tax fraud

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Hugh “Stan” Curtis admits to stealing $183,354 in charitable donations; Curtis failed to report $553,891.67 in income from donations made to USA Harvest

           LOUISVILLE, Ky. – USA Harvest founder, Hugh “Stan” Curtis pleaded guilty in United States District Court this afternoon before Chief Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr, to a seven count federal indictment charging him 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.

“Stan Curtis used his position as sole officer of USA Harvest to divert donations meant for the poor and hungry – our neediest citizens,” stated U.S. Attorney David J. Hale.  “He is now being held accountable for his actions. The investigation and prosecution of crimes against charitable entities will remain a priority of my office.  Crimes such as this impact the entire community.”

Hugh “Stan” Curtis, 65, of Louisville, Kentucky, admitted that from September 2005 through September 2007, he stole $183,354 in donations that he solicited on behalf of USA Harvest, non-profit, I.R.C. 501(c)(3) organization he founded.  Of these donated funds, Curtis acknowledged that he deposited $164,620 into his personal account and cashed donation checks totaling $18,734 – and thereafter used the funds for his personal benefit. The $164,620 includes checks written to USA Harvest on August 29, 2007 for $20,000 from Play Like the Pros, LLC and a September 5, 2007 donation from Richemont North America, Inc., for $25,000 which Curtis deposited into his own personal bank account and used for his own personal gain. Curtis did not report the $183,354 as income with the Internal Revenue Service.

Curtis also admitted that from 2005 through 2008, he failed to report to the Internal Revenue Service approximately $341,646 in personal income derived from donations made to USA Harvest. From 2005 through 2008 Curtis falsely included approximately $353,165 in unreimbursed travel expense deductions on his federal income tax returns.  Of the $553,891.67 in unreported income, Curtis used approximately $370,537.67 in USA Harvest funds to pay for personal meals, personal travel and personal entertainment expenses.  In total, defendant Curtis failed to pay $270,000 in federal income tax from calendar years 2005 through 2008.

Curtis admitted to filing false tax 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.

Curtis was determined to be competent to enter a guilty plea by Magistrate Judge Dave Whalin,  following an earlier competency hearing held in U.S. District Court on November 8, 2013.

“Honest American taxpayers deserve to know that there are consequences for individuals who intentionally try to dodge their tax obligations.  IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to investigate those who abuse the tax system and avoid paying their fair share.  No one is above the law,” stated Christopher Henry, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigations-Nashville Field Office.

At sentencing, the United States will recommend a sentence of 24 months in prison and inform the court that it should order payment of a total of $183,354 in restitution. Restitution to the IRS will be handled independently by the civil division of the IRS, and the amount owed in taxes will be calculated independently by the IRS.

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