Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner and University of Kentucky basketball star Richie Farmer has been sentenced to 27 months in prison.
Farmer previously pleaded guilty to corruption charges for misappropriating government resources while in office. The sentence also requires Farmer to pay over $120,000 in restitution for abusing his power. Farmer’s attorney Guthrie True says he's disappointed in the ruling. He'd sought to have Farmer serve only 21 months.
“All that Richie’s done and accomplished in life is not wiped out by this, and I think people ought to remember that,” said True. “I mean, he served our state well in many respects as the commissioner of agriculture and, you know, he certainly served a lot of interests that are important to a lot of us, that give pride to our state, our basketball team, our university. And he’s accomplished a lot in life and he will accomplish more in life.”
Farmer is ordered to report to prison on March 18. After his sentence is served, he will be placed on one year’s probation. He expressed contrition as he left the courtroom.
“Obviously disappointed, but, you know, certainly I wanna say to the people of the state how sorry that I am and how much they’ve meant to me and thank them for all the understanding and, you know, you make bad decisions, poor judgments, and, you know, you own up to those mistakes and you move on,” said Farmer. And that’s what I would hope that people of the state would be willing to do.”
Farmer was a member of the UK men’s basketball team’s roster of star players known as “The Unforgettables.”
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.
Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer's "unwarranted sense of entitlement" goes beyond what he's been charged with, federal prosecutors said in a court filing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Taylor said in a notice filed in court late Friday that the government intends to introduce testimony and other evidence that Farmer misappropriated and misused public resources before 2008, the last year listed in an indictment.
Because of a five-year statute of limitations, Taylor said Farmer could not be charged with anything that may have happened before 2008.
Farmer is a former University of Kentucky basketball player who was elected agriculture commissioner in 2003 and 2007. He has pleaded not guilty to four counts of misappropriating government funds for the benefit of himself, his family and friends.
Kentucky sports hero turned politician Richie Farmer pleaded not guilty Thursday to criminal charges related to his management of the Department of Agriculture.
The basketball icon whose jersey hangs from the rafters of the University of Kentucky's Rupp Arena was charged in an indictment earlier this week with four counts of misappropriating government property and money and one count of soliciting property in exchange for a government grant.
Farmer appeared Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Robert Wier in U.S. District Court in Lexington with his attorney, Guthrie True.
True entered the plea for Farmer, who answered only "yes" and "yes, sir" in response to questions from Wier.
The arraignment for former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer is now scheduled for Thursday afternoon in Lexington. Farmer’s arraignment had originally been set for next Tuesday, but was moved up because of a scheduling conflict with Farmer’s lawyer, Guthrie True.
Earlier this week the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Farmer had been indicted on four counts of theft from a program involving federal funds and one count of soliciting a bribe.
The charges against Farmer include allegations that he took guns, watches, and knives bought as gifts from a convention in 2008.
Each of the five counts against the former UK basketball star carries a penalty of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000. Any sentence following a conviction would be imposed by a judge under federal court sentencing guidelines.