USA Harvest founder sentenced to 24 months in prison

Published: Sep. 5, 2014 at 3:29 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2014 at 3:29 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It's a fall of great proportions as a man who was once considered a community leader and champion for the hungry was sentenced to serve time in prison Thursday in federal court.

From his leading role in promoting Louisville for golf's 1996 PGA Championship, to taking his charities that feed the hungry to a national level, the rise and fall and long legal battle of Stan Curtis got some finality. Curtis was sentenced to two years behind bars for stealing thousands of dollars from those charities he pledged to help.

[PREVIOUS STORY: USA Harvest founder Stan Curtis sentenced for stealing charity's money]

"If you're going to weigh someone's life, the good dramatically outweighs the bad," said Curtis' Attorney Scott Cox.

Curtis stood with celebrities and stood for feeding hungry children as he founded USA Harvest, KY Harvest and Blessings in a Backpack. Thursday he stood before a judge and offered no apologies in the courtroom.

[PREVIOUS STORY: USA Harvest founder Stan Curtis ruled competent to stand trial on theft charges] 

Cox said, "His conduct was wrong and it was criminal and I'm not going to apologize for it, but again when you look at his whole history, it's been extremely positive."

Extremely positive may be a stretch when you consider Curtis pleaded guilty to mail fraud, money laundering and filing bogus tax returns failing to report a half million dollars. Curtis got a break in court facing more than 50 years in prison he was sentenced to just 24 months and three years of probation and must pay back $180,000 to USA Harvest that he admitted he spent on himself.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Strolling by justice: A question of Curtis' competency]

The judge sighted Curtis's failing health as a reason for the light sentence.

Health changes were clearly visible as Curtis went in and out of the courtroom in a wheelchair after being charged, although our WAVE 3 News cameras spotted a much less frail looking Curtis away from the courthouse. WAVE 3 News Anchor John Boel tried to get answers and questioned Curtis after finding him out walking in the park.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Curtis tries to enter plea, judge won't let him] 

"How is your health?" Boel asked. Curtis did not respond. " There's a lot of people who think you're kind of embellishing your health situation to not deal with the court issues, you know what I mean?" Boel continued to question him. Again Curtis did not answer.

A few months later, Curtis was ruled competent to face charges.

His attorney Scott Cox says Curtis never tried to contest the charges and accepted responsibility.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Charity founder facing 52 years in prison] 

Cox says Curtis's health continues to improve as he's getting stronger and now walking on a treadmill, but he's convinced his 65-year-old client needs to be in a federal medical center. Cox says ultimately it's up to the bureau of prisons to decide where Curtis will actually start serving his sentence in a few months.

Cox is hopeful it will be in Springfield, Missouri at the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners. He says there Curtis can get the help he needs and there are many family members who live in the area.

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