Richie Farmer’s guns and knives draw bidders, profit


by Joe Arnold

Posted on May 5, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Updated Monday, May 5 at 6:20 PM

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Hundreds of registered bidders from across Kentucky converged on the bi-annual Department of Fish and Wildlife surplus auction on Monday as the state sold off discarded evidence from the case that sent former agriculture commissioner Richie Farmer to federal prison.

With buyers paying twice to four times the original price of knives and guns once in Farmer's possession, the auction yielded $21,415 for the agriculture department, which intends to plow the proceeds into an urban gardening project at the Parkland Boys and Girls Club in Louisville.

Of the auction's 377 items, 29 were from the Farmer case, 16 Case knives emblazoned with Farmer's name and the Kentucky Proud logo in a commemorative box, and 13 Remington rifles specially inscribed with the Kentucky Proud logo.

Bought with Agriculture Department funds, the knives and rifles were originally intended for visiting agriculture officials at a 2008 conference in Lexington, yet ended up in Farmer's possession.

"He kind of messed up," Jack Stephens of Russell Springs said.  "Messed up pretty big time. He had it made and then threw it away."

Stephens paid $1050 for one of Farmer's Remington rifles.

"My wife will probably... she'll probably throw me out," Stephens said.

Farmer is in the second month of a 27 month sentence in federal prison,

"He did what he did, you've got to pay," said Sheila Burke of Salvisa.  "I feel sorry for him.  I really do."

Burke paid $400 for a knife originally purchased by the state for $89.

"(It's a) conversation piece," Burke explained, adding she plans to set it on her mantle.

A member of the University of Kentucky's "Unforgettable" team, players who stuck with the program despite NCAA probation in the early 1990's, Farmer believed his Wildcat celebrity added value to his two terms in office.  It also appears to have added value to the evidence against him.

Matt Gosser paid more than $1000 each for two rifles, which originally cost about $500.

"I'm just a big Kentucky basketball fan," Gosser of Russell Springs, said.  "I just like the collectability of them. I thought I would at least buy one and ended up buying two."

Gosser said he intended to keep the rifles as museum pieces, not fire them and hand them down to his two sons.

“This auction blew the doors off all our expectations,” said Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said. “We thought there would be some spirited bidding for these collector’s items, but we never expected anything like this. I want to thank everyone who came out to take a look and cast a bid.”