Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner and college basketball star Richie Farmer is scheduled to appear in court to finalize a plea deal that could send him to prison for about two years.
Farmer, who served two terms as state agriculture commissioner, is expected to enter guilty pleas in federal and state court on government corruption charges on Friday.
Farmer, whose jersey hangs as a monument in the rafters of Rupp Area, was accused of using Department of Agriculture employees to work on his Frankfort home, including building a basketball court in his backyard.
Officials said Farmer also hired friends, including his girlfriend, as special assistants who did little or no work for the agency. And, they accused Farmer of using government employees to do personal errands, including babysitting his children.
The Executive Branch Ethics Commission has approved an agreement with former University of Kentucky basketball star Richie Farmer to resolve administrative charges related to his management of the state Department of Agriculture.
That agreement is part of an overall deal that will also resolve government corruption charges pending in state and federal court.
Farmer, who played on a University of Kentucky team dubbed the "Unforgettables," faces about 2 years in prison under a plea deal announced last week. He had been scheduled to stand trial Oct. 22 on a five-count federal indictment. He is expected to enter guilty pleas to the criminal charges on Friday.
Farmer, who led the Department of Agriculture from 2004 through 2011, could have been sentenced to 10 years in prison if he had been convicted.
Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer is likely headed to prison for about two years. His attorney says Farmer has reached a plea agreement in his government corruption case.
The plea agreement with state and federal prosecutors and the Executive Branch Ethics Commission would resolve all pending and potential charges related to Farmer’s illegal activities while head of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture from 2004 to 2011. Farmer was headed to trial in federal court next month on a five-count indictment, as well as a 42-count charge brought by the state ethics panel.
“This decision comes after much soul-searching and risk assessment by Richie and his family,” said Farmer’s attorney Guthrie True in a news release.
True acknowledged that federal prosecutors were planning to bring a second indictment, and the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office intends to file charges against Farmer and his sister alleging campaign finance allegations.
Defense attorneys for a former Kentucky agriculture commissioner haven’t filed any motions ahead of an October federal trial.
Richie Farmer is facing five counts related to his time in office from 2004 to 2011. A federal judge set an August 2 deadline for Farmer’s lawyer to file defense motions, but the Courier-Journal reports no such motions were submitted. That’s despite the judge’s decision to extend the filing deadline in response to Farmer’s attorney’s claims that he needed extra time to mile motions.
Farmer’s attorney is Guthrie True, who represented then-Barren County Sheriff Chris Eaton in his recent federal trial in Bowling Green.
Farmer was indicted in April on four counts involving alleged theft of federal funds and one count of soliciting a bribe while agriculture commissioner. Farmer has pleaded not guilty to all counts. The government wants him to repay $450,000--the amount they say he misused while in office.
The Executive Branch Ethics Commission has handed down public reprimands and fines to three former employees in the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
The panel took the action Monday against Bruce Harper of Harrodsburg, Chris Parsons of Mount Vernon and George "Doug" Begley of London.
Harper agreed to pay a $4,500 fine for soliciting donations from businesses his agency regulated and for attempting to interfere with enforcement actions in cases involving grain storage and disposal of dead animals.
Parsons agreed to pay a $5,000 fine for filing false timesheets and for using his state-assigned vehicle for personal purposes.