Richie Farmer

Richie Farmer Pleads Not Guilty to Federal Charges

Apr 25, 2013

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.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer doesn't expect the indictment of his predecessor, Richie Farmer, to damage the department. Comer says he feels sorry for Farmer's family because of the indictment, but it won't be a distraction for the department.

Comer and his staff have cooperated with multiple investigations into Farmer, and his goal is to distance the office from the officeholder.

"I hope the confidence has been restored. I work hard every day, I go to events every day to promote agriculture. We brought in all new management, we're efficient, we're transparent," said Comer, a Monroe County native.

Farmer has been indicted on five counts related to allegations he misused his office to obtain gifts and misappropriated state funds during his two terms as commissioner. He could face up to ten years in prison and a quarter million dollar fine.

Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer has been indicted by a federal grand jury on four counts of misusing and misappropriating funds from the Department of Agriculture. Farmer also faces a charge of soliciting property in exchange for influencing department actions.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Lexington made the announcement this morning. 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.

U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey says Farmer will be arraigned on April 30.

Allegations of spending and hiring abuses during Farmer’s tenure as Agriculture Commissioner prompted his successor, James Comer, to ask for an audit of Farmer’s time at the department. The report released by state auditor Adam Edelen found what he called “a toxic culture of entitlement and self-dealing at the Kentucky taxpayers’ expense.”

Grand Jury to Meet on Richie Farmer

Apr 18, 2013

Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer could be the subject of a federal grand jury meeting on Friday.

Frankfort defense attorney Guthrie True said he's been informed that the grand jury will look at Farmer. The Executive Branch Ethics Commission charged Farmer last month with 42 administrative ethics violations for allegedly misusing government funds and employees during his eight years in office.

Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer is facing 42 charges of ethics violations related to his tenure from 2003-2011. The state’s Executive Branch Ethics Commission returned the charges following a ten-month investigation.

That investigation started when state auditor Adam Edelen issued a report last April accusing Farmer of abusing his office and employees in the Agriculture Department. That report claimed Farmer used workers to take him hunting and shopping, mow his lawn, and even chauffeur his dog.

The Courier-Journal reports the case against the former UK basketball player now goes to a hearing officer who will review the evidence and then make a recommendation to the ethics commission regarding punishment. If the commission ultimately finds Farmer guilty he could face a fine of up to $5,000 per count. Farmer served two terms and Agriculture Commissioner before running unsuccessfully as Lt. Gov. in 2011.

Richie Farmer Could be on Ethics Commission Agenda Monday

Mar 18, 2013

The Executive Branch Ethics Commission has a meeting set for Monday when they could decide whether former University of Kentucky basketball star Richie Farmer violated any of rules when he was state agriculture commissioner.

Farmer was accused in a state audit last year of using Department of Agriculture employees to take him hunting and shopping, mow his yard and chauffeur his dog. Those accusations and more were passed along to the Ethics Commission.

Farmer served two terms in the elected-position of agriculture commissioner. He ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2011.

Kentucky's agriculture commissioner says the state's four-year-old fuel and pesticide testing lab has not lived up to its initial billing. James Comer told members of the state's interim joint committee on agriculture that his predecessor, Richie Farmer, sold the fuel lab as a great investment and moneymaker for the commonwealth.

A Franklin County judge is weighing whether to grant former University of Kentucky basketball star Richie Farmer's request to reduce his child support payments. The Lexington Herald-Leader and The Courier-Journal report that Family Court Judge Squire Williams heard testimony from Farmer and his ex-wife, Rebecca Farmer, on Thursday, but he did not issue a ruling.

Former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer says he wants the amount of child support he's required to pay for his children to be reduced because of the loss of his elected position and other circumstances.

A task force is set to begin reviewing whether a state fuel lab built under former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer can be saved. The bi-partisan panel has its first meeting scheduled on Tuesday at the Kentucky Department of Agriculture offices in Frankfort.

The state Personnel Board has voted to investigate multiple merit system and employee abuses that allegedly took place in the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. The alleged abuses took place under then Commissioner Richie Farmer, and were detailed earlier this year in a scathing audit of the department.

Kentucky Senate President David Williams says he had no idea what trouble his former gubernatorial running mate Richie Farmer was causing as agriculture commissioner.
During an interview on Kentucky Sports Radio Wednesday, host Matt Jones asked Williams about the abuses of power and resources that were uncovered in a recent audit of Farmer's time in office.

The Kentucky personnel board is expected to consider that scathing audit of the agriculture department under former commissioner Richie Farmer. Monday the panel will take its first action on the audit which found evidence that candidates for merit positions were pre-selected, that monetary awards were issued without input from supervisors and that a merit employee's responsibilities were removed without documenting the action in a personnel file.

Kentucky Department of Agriculture

An audit of former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer's administration has revealed multiple abuses of state resources. The report says the former University of Kentucky basketball star illegally hired friends and family, used department resources for Christmas gifts and made state employees mow his yard and build a basketball court at his home on state time.

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