TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

January 15, 2014

Farmer sentenced to 27 months

CORBIN — By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service

Telling him he betrayed the public trust and there “should be serious consequences for a serious crime,” U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove sentenced former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer to 27 months in prison Tuesday.

Farmer, 44, pleaded guilty to two counts of misappropriating public funds by hiring family and friends who did little or no work and for converting public funds to his personal use after a plea agreement was worked out by his attorney Guthrie True and federal prosecutors.

That agreement called for a sentence of between 21 and 27 months and restitution by Farmer of $120,500 in exchange for dismissal of two similar counts in the indictment. Farmer potentially could have faced 10 years on each of the four charges.

True asked Van Tatenhove to choose the lower end of the sentencing range, saying Farmer suffered such a long fall that it “is in some ways punishment enough.”

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

He said given Farmer’s notoriety and subsequent disgrace, 21 months represented both sufficient punishment for Farmer and a strong message to other public officials.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Taylor said the plea agreement was fair and he, too, noted that Farmer suffered a very public fall “from a very high mountain” and suffered a great loss of reputation.

“There is also a real benefit to society at large to hear the defendant say ‘I’m guilty, I did it and I’m not going to appeal,’” Taylor said. “It satisfies the public that this prosecution was just.”

Additionally, Taylor said, “A very long trial would’ve been very costly to both sides.”

True also asked the judge to consider Farmer’s three sons, none of whom were present for the sentencing.

“Although it’s Richie’s fault,” True said, his sons will suffer. “They are the collateral damage.”

He said every mistake made by one of the three during Farmer’s time in prison will be “Richie’s fault for not being there,” but the judge could reduce the time he’s not there by six months by choosing to sentence Farmer to 21 months rather than 27.

Farmer — a high school basketball legend who went on to play for the University of Kentucky and was a member of the UK team dubbed “the Unforgettables” —  also addressed the court, with his parents, brother and sister looking on. His voice momentarily breaking, Farmer said he was sorry for the “mistakes and poor judgments” he made while commissioner of agriculture and apologized to the people of Kentucky “who have been so good to me.”

He said he has suffered through the ordeal of the investigation and media reports, “but most of all, I’ve had to watch what my family’s been through, and most of all my kids. I can never make it up to them but I want to say I’m sorry.”

Van Tatenhove spoke at length about the difficulty of his decision, saying the sentence was more about public trust and holding people accountable than about Farmer himself.

“Betraying the public trust is really serious and there must be serious consequences for a serious crime to deter others,” Van Tatenhove told Farmer.

But the judge also told Farmer that his athletic accomplishments as a member of a beloved UK basketball team and the hanging of Farmer’s UK jersey in Rupp Arena should not be tarnished because of his subsequent mistakes as agriculture commissioner.

“Yet you owe us a debt to society and you need to pay that debt,” Van Tatenhove said. “Once you’ve paid that debt, then you are debt free and you can hold your head high.”

He said he realizes others may “hold this over your head for the rest of your life but that’s not right.”

Van Tatenhove then sentenced Farmer to 27 months in federal prison with a year of supervised release. Farmer must also pay restitution of $120,500, the figure contained in the plea agreement.

Van Tatenhove allowed Farmer to self-report to prison and set the report date as March 18. He said he will recommend to federal prison officials that Farmer be allowed to serve his sentence at the facility in his hometown of Manchester.

Afterward, Farmer spoke briefly with reporters.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed,” he said. “But I certainly want to say to the people of the state how sorry that I am and how much they’ve meant to me and to thank them for all their understanding. You know, you make bad decisions and poor judgments and you own up to those mistakes and move on and that’s what I hope the people of the state are willing to do.”

Farmer also faces sentencing Friday in Franklin Circuit Court on a state charge that he caused his campaign funds to be expended for an improper purpose, stemming from allegations he submitted false expense reports to his campaign fund.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • TODAY'S HEADLINES, July 28, 2014

    Cannon man indicted for rape: Charges include theft for reportedly taking the victim’s car

    Knox grand jury indicts accused store burglar

    Man accused of Woodbine shooting appears in court

    So Far, So Good: North Laurel Coach Chris Larkey pleased with the way his team is looking

    The Next Step: Jerry Herron's Williamsburg Yellow Jackets have high hopes of winning a state title

     

    July 28, 2014

  • 0726 thunderbolt for web.jpg Tales of the Thunderbolt

    The soft whistle of a flute floated through the room as audience members listened in awe to tales of the Thunderbolt people.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jaynes sentenced to 20 years for murder

    A hush swept across the Knox County Circuit courtroom Friday afternoon — all that was heard was the jangle of ankle shackles hitting the bare floor as convicted murderer Angela Jaynes approached the podium for her official sentencing hearing.

    July 27, 2014

  • Five people indicted for murder

    Five people arrested in connection with the May shooting death of 29-year-old Donald Mills were all officially charged with the murder on two separate indictments Friday in Knox County Circuit Court.

    July 27, 2014

  • Man in court for stealing from Bingham Tire

    A Pineville man charged with stealing more than $125,000 in inventory from Bingham Tire in Barbourville over a two-year period appeared Friday before Judge Gregory Lay in Knox County Circuit Court.

    July 27, 2014

  • POLICE ROUNDUP: Sheriff’s office searching for wanted London man

    A London man has found himself on the Laurel County Sheriff Department’s most wanted list, according to Laurel County Sheriff John Root.
    Detective Billy Madden is searching for Jamie Elam, 34.

    July 27, 2014

  • 0725 Honor Guard FOR WEB.jpg Hundreds attend military funeral service for Dirk Shelton

    Whenever America needed him, Staff Sergeant Dirk Thomas Shelton always answered the call.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • TODAY'S HEADLINES — July 25, 2014

    Hundreds attend military funeral service for Dirk Shelton

    New jobs coming to London
     

    July 25, 2014

  • swiss officer for web.jpg Swiss officer spends time with Laurel Co. deputies

    Fabien De Lucia is a police officer in a two-and-a-half square-mile city filled with 30,000 people.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0724 Chris Robinson FOR WEB.jpg Robinson new London Tourism director

    The London Tourism and Convention Commission voted Wednesday to hire Chris Robinson as their new director.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

Front page
Featured Ads
AP Video
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter