FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) – Former UK basketball star and Kentucky Department of Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer has pleaded guilty in federal court that he misused funds while in office.
Farmer admitted that he misappropriated funds by hiring friends who didn’t perform work to justify their salaries and purchasing items for personal use using agriculture funds. Farmer originally faced five counts, but pleaded guilty to two of the counts. The other three were dropped as a part of the agreement.
Farmer apologized in Federal court to his family, friends, and to the people if the Commonwealth, but did not speak to reporters. Farmer's attorney, Guthrie True, addressed the media with Farmer by his side saying Farmer felt overwhelmed with the possibility of a trial. True also said Farmer was ready to put this matter behind him.
As a part of the deal Farmer will have to pay back $120,500. $105,500 will go back to the Commonwealth's general fund. The rest will go to the Department of Agriculture.
If the court approves his plea, it will require him to serve a prison sentence of 21 to 27 months. After Farmer serves his sentence he will also have one year of supervised release.
In a statement from Kerry B. Harvey, who represents the eastern district of Kentucky, said that the people “deserved better” from Farmer and he hopes that he will begin to repair the inevitable damage done when an elected official uses his public office to enrich himself through a criminal scheme.
Sentencing for Farmer is expected to take place is January.
He served as agricultural commissioner from 2004 to 2011.