Judge: Richie Farmer sentence about ‘the public trust’

Former state official, University of Kentucky basketball star to serve 27 months

By Kristina Belcher, Published:

Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer told reporters Tuesday he was “disappointed” after a federal judge sentenced him to 27 months in prison for misuse of government funds.

That was the maximum sentence suggested by a plea agreement between Farmer, 44, and federal prosecutors. He must also pay $120,500 in restitution.

“This is about upholding the public trust,” U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove said before issuing the sentence.

Van Tatenhove ordered Farmer to report to prison March 18. He recommended that Farmer be allowed to serve his time at the minimum-security facility near his home in Manchester, the seat of Clay County in southeastern Kentucky where he grew up.

If the Bureau of Prisons allows the assignment, Farmer would be near his family, including three sons who are in or nearing their teenage years.

Farmer pleaded guilty in September to two felonies relating to excess gifts he claimed that had been purchased for visiting agriculture commissioners during a 2008 conference, hotel rooms used by his family during the conference and salaries for personal friends hired into the department who did little to no actual work on state time.

Van Tatenhove accepted the plea deal, agreeing with attorneys on both sides that the deal laid out a reasonable punishment and would also send a message of intolerance of corruption in politics.

“A very important consideration for us, your honor … was the fact that, especially in cases involving political figures, there is a real benefit to society at large to hear the defendant say, ‘I did it, I’m guilty,’” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Taylor said. “There’s closure there.”

Farmer’s attorney, Guthrie True, said in court that his client was already paying for his actions.

“I guess the higher you climb in life, the risk is the farther you fall when you make a mistake,” True said.

True argued that Farmer had learned his lesson and the minimum 21-month sentence in the plea agreement would be reasonable.

“I am one bad decision away from being in that same spot,” True said. “And that holds true for all of us.”

Before he was sentenced, Farmer addressed the court for approximately two minutes.

“I made some mistakes and made some poor judgment,” Farmer said about his time as agriculture commissioner.

He got choked up when discussing the pain he has caused his family, many of who were present in the courtroom.

“I just want to say publicly that I am truly sorry for all of those things,” Farmer said.

Farmer was a member of the 1992 University of Kentucky basketball team dubbed “The Unforgettables.”

“Nothing I’m saying today takes away from any of those accomplishments,” Van Tatenhove said, addressing Farmer’s contribution to the team and their national championship. “That banner should stay hanging.”

As a convicted felon, he can no longer run for public office, possess a firearm or vote.

Federal prisoners are not eligible for parole, meaning Farmer will have to serve his entire 27-month sentence.

“You still owe a debt to society,” Van Tatenhove said. “You need to pay that debt.

“Who we are is not only our successes we’ve had, but also our failures.”

Van Tatenhove explained that while the sentence will take Farmer away from his children, it could also serve as a teaching tool for them on how to handle failure.

Farmer had been a rising star within the Kentucky GOP until an unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor in 2011 on a ticket with Republican state Senate President David Williams. They lost overwhelmingly to incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, in part because of the brewing scandal.

Farmer will be sentenced in Franklin Circuit Court Friday for separate charges of spending $10,500 in campaign funds improperly.

According to the plea agreement in that case, prosecutors with the Office of the Attorney General will recommend a one-year sentence for Farmer, to run concurrent with his federal time.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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  • I would like too say that Richie farmer, Jersey Should remain on the  RAFTERS at Rupp Arena Richie farmer,deserved it and let it hang right where it is!

  • I Honest think that Mr.Richie farmer,Should not have too go to Federal Prision, he's paying the money back...Mr.Richie farmer need to be there for his 3 young Sons as well as his entire family! how many can honest say that they'll have'nt dont anything wrong yes,Richie admit to his misstakes and poor judgement what else can he do he been honest about it..Mr.Richie,did not lie to the federal Judge he admit his wrong doing! I'm not the judge and neither is anyones and this entire world only God is the Judge and Mr.Richie Farmer will come before the judgement seat and give account of his wrong doings as were all will!

  • So, let's get this straight, the fderal government deems the gross abuse of power and violation of the public trust of a duly elected public official involving hundreds of thousands of tax dollars over a period of several years is worth just 21 months, while an average citizen living in a modest subdivision who was caught just growing pot in his own home is worth 40 years in the penitentiary.  Our so-called justice system has lost its way...

  • The real question on the public's mind is, "Can he still hit the three?"

  • beegee428 I read that book the year it came out and thats why I said this state is as corrupt as it gets. I haven't forgotten Boptrot either. All this dog & pony show is for is to act like they care but the facts said Farmer was looked after dearly. This Manchester gig was part of the deal all along and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if Farmer is allowed day, nights or weekend trips away from there.  H8!!, he may very well only stay there long enough to get his mugshot taken & that will be it!

  • If you guys think what Farmer did is actually anything new, you really need to read The Bluegrass Conspiracy.

  • Totally agree Bodeen! It is a federal crime tried in a federal court so he should have to do his time in another state were he won't get favors!

  • LOL, of course this bleeding heart judge wants farmer to do his token time in his hometown to be close to his family. Of course this BLUE BLEEDING HEART JUDGE WANTS FARMERS JERSEY TO REMAIN IN THE RAFTERS. This is a joke and a slap on the citizens who were wronged by this crook. Since when does a judge cares about a convicted felons kids or families. Of corse Farmer has finally spoken and said he was sorry. That is what all crooks say when caught and facing a judge.

    Van Tatenhove being as star struck as he is, should had never been allowed to handled this case and do another disservice to the citizens. I can already see the rules at Manchester getting bent or broken to cater to Farmers popularity. This is some punishment, NOT!
     

  • shogun you are misinformed. He doesn't have to pay back but a small fraction of what he bilked the taxpayers out of and he won't be charged with many other crimes he has committed. The feds are turning their heads on all the crimes he committed his first term. He will not have to do any hard time and HE WILL GET A FULL PARDON WHEN HE GETS OUT! so he will vote and hunt (if he isn't lazy to get somebody else to pull the trigger again) and possibly run for office again. As far as having help in committing his crimes, only his sister helped in cheating on his campaign spending but nobody helped Richie commit his crimes. I will agree that he had lots of help in sharing his loot!

    Richies crimes were exposed during his first run but nobody would do anything and then he got super arrogant and flaunted his power. This isn't even a slap on the wrist but on par for a state that is embedded with corruption.

  • Unlike most commenters I believe this is plenty fair. His crime was not personal like the woman that bilked 2 veterans. He had help in committing his crimes against the government and the people. He has to pay it all back. He has to serve the entire 27 months. He can't vote. He can't have firearm in his possession and that means no more hunting for that country boy. And best of all he can never run for an elected position. I have seen some do a lot more and get less punishment.

  • Where will he serve this time ?  Not fair by no means, our judicial system continues to fail more often than not. Special treatment should not play a role but we know it does. The only thing that we can hope for is they pulling his jersey from Rupp Arena.

     

  • Should be 27 years.

  • It is not fair by any means. People are going to get tired of this heavy hand dealt to the regular Joes and the politicians and people with wealth get off  with a mere slap on the wrist. It's the haves vs the have nots. What else could it be?

  • Good point, User 33062

  • What is wrong with our judicial system? Ole Richie takes hundreds of thousands of dollars from the tax payers of Ky and only gets 27 months in prison. There was a story earlier this week of a lady taking $19,000 from 2 veterans and she gets 25 years and will be eligible for parole in 5 years! Tell me how that is equal and Mr. Farmer not getting peripheral treatment?