April 17, 2014
LOUISVILLE (AP) — Leaders at Kentucky Harvest say the organization is going strong more than a year after its founder was charged with taking money from a separate charity.
Kentucky Harvest Chairman Brent Smith told The Courier-Journal that questions have mostly stopped, and food contributions and deliveries are virtually unchanged 18 months after Stan Curtis was accused of using funds from USA Harvest for personal expenses.
Curtis founded both Kentucky Harvest and USA Harvest.
“Initially it was hard for everyone to understand that Kentucky Harvest and USA Harvest are different,” Smith said. “We don’t get as many questions now.”
Prosecutors have said Curtis took no money from Kentucky Harvest. Even so, Eric Churchill, Kentucky Harvest’s senior vice president of development, says there initially “was a presumed guilt by association.”
Curtis has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of tax evasion, mail fraud and money laundering related to USA Harvest. His trial is set for July 8.
Kentucky Harvest delivered about 2 million pounds of food in 2013 to regional agencies and food pantries, many in the Louisville area.
“We didn’t see a decline, because our donors know they are helping people in need,” Smith said.
He said the charity might even be better off now because it is being run “more like a business” and there is more long-term planning.
“I think we are in a better spot,” Smith said.
Kentucky Harvest only three employees, one of whom is part-time. It relies heavily volunteers who contribute about 300 hours each month.
The organization delivered two pallets of grape juice on a recent weekday to an addiction-recovery center in downtown Louisville that serves 1,600 meals a day.
“They are a godsend,” said food service manager Richard Real.