USA Harvest founder's mental state questioned

Lawyers agree to competency review

Associated PressFebruary 1, 2013 

Harvest Founder

USA Harvest founder Stan Curtis, using a wheelchair, arrived outside federal court in Louisville in December with his attorney, Scott Cox, left, for a hearing.

DAVID R. LUTMAN — ASSOCIATED PRESS

LOUISVILLE — The founder of USA Harvest will undergo a competency review to determine if he is mentally capable of entering a plea to charges that he used the charity to fund personal meals, travel and entertainment.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed Thursday to turn over mental and physical health records for 63-year-old Hugh "Stan" Curtis and for doctors to interview him. U.S. Magistrate Judge Dave Whalin continued Curtis' case indefinitely while the review takes place.

Louisville attorney Scott Cox said Curtis will make all of his health records available to prosecutors and the doctors conducting the evaluation.

In many cases, a defendant is placed at a federal facility to undergo competency and mental examination. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Calhoun told Whalin that Curtis can remain in his assisted-living facility while the evaluation takes place.

"We're not asking to have him taken into custody," Calhoun said.

Curtis has been in poor health since being charged in September with taking $183,354 from the charity and charging another $370,000 in personal travel expenses.

Curtis, who founded the organization in 1989 as Kentucky Harvest of Louisville, faces charges of mail fraud, money laundering and filing false income-tax returns. 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.

Curtis had been scheduled to plead guilty in December, but the hearing was delayed after questions about his competency.

Prosecutors said 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.

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