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USA Harvest Founder Charged with Looting Charity

Nick M Do/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The founder of charity group USA Harvest, which has ties to celebrities Scarlett Johansson, Hillary Duff, the Goo Goo Dolls and Green Day, has been charged by the Justice Department with stealing more than $553,000 from the organization.

Hugh “Stan” Curtis, the founder of USA Harvest, has been charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kentucky with mail fraud, money laundering and filing false income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service.

Curtis allegedly stole over $180,000 between September 2005 and September 2007 of donations that he solicited on behalf of the organization -- a tax-exempt charity. The theft included some large donations meant for USA Harvest.  

According to the criminal charges, Curtis allegedly deposited checks into his bank account for the charity that included a $20,000 and a $25,000 check from donors.

The charity provides food and meals for individuals in need by partnering with restaurants and hospitals to get leftover food to soup kitchens and food banks. According to the USA Harvest website, which highlights their ties with celebrities such as Johansson, the charity works with 5,400 agencies to provide food and notes that they have provided over 437 billion pounds of food to organizations since their founding in 1989.

The criminal charges filed by the Justice Department allege that Curtis failed to pay taxes on approximately $553,891.67 in personal income which included $183,000 in donations and over $370,000 in personal travel expenses that he billed to the charity.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Western Kentucky, “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.”

A request for comment from USA Harvest by ABC News has not been returned.  A review of the court docket did not reveal a defense attorney for Curtis.  

If convicted of the charges, Curtis could face a maximum of 52 years in prison.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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