LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Kentucky basketball great and former state Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer has reached a plea deal for his corruption case. It all stems from those federal charges of abusing power and misusing taxpayer money while he was in office.
The deal, if approved by the courts and ethics commission, puts Farmer behind bars for about 2 years. There is no parole in the federal prison system.
Farmer’s political career fell apart during his 2011 bid for the Lieutenant Governor post when he was accused of mismanaging the Ag Department and misusing taxpayer dollars. A crime State Auditor Adam Edelen says is tough to repay, “Listen, I’m not sure that you can ever adequately repay the public when you abuse their trust. But, the fact that he’s going to surrender his freedom for about a couple years, I think speaks to the severity of abusing the public trust in Kentucky,” Edelen said over the phone Thursday evening.
Farmer’s attorney Guthrie True said in a statement, “Richie cannot, in good conscience, put his three boys who have already had to suffer through their parents’ divorce through the stress and trauma which would accompany such an ordeal.”
With a guilty plea, Farmer avoids three criminal trials and an ethic hearing. If he had gone to trial and been convicted, he could have faced up to 10 years in prison. Edelen says Farmer’s notoriety doesn’t put him above the law. “While we’re all proud of the UK legacy, certainly Richie Farmer was a hero of mine for many years and I think he earned those accolades on the basketball court, but I also think he’s earned precisely what he’s gotten here with his misdeeds in office.”
In total, Farmer will serve anywhere from 21 to 27 months in prison. He’ll also pay restitution and an ethics fine totaling $120,500. As part of the plea deal, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway says Farmer and his sister will also plead guilty to violating state campaign finance laws.