richie farmer kentuckyFormer Kentucky Wildcats standout basketball player Richie Farmer was sentenced to 27 months in prison today.

Farmer was best known for being one of 'The Unforgettables," making a run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament before falling to Duke in perhaps the most epic game in tournament history. Farmer, who was a Kentucky Mr. Basketball, was a state legend and revered by many in his home state.

He used his fame on the court to launch a political career that saw him heading up the Kentucky Department of Agriculture for two terms.

Today his world came crashing down.

Farmer was the former Kentucky Agriculture commissioner and was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $120,500 in restitution for abusing power as the state’s agriculture commissioner. Farmer reached a plea deal in September that allowed him to avoid a larger sentence.

Defense attorney Guthrie True said at the time that, "Richie deeply regrets the pain which has been inflicted on his family, as well as any embarrassment he has caused the good people of Kentucky. In part, this is why he has decided to bring an end to what would have turned into a spectacle which would have run on for months, if not years."

It was during his time running to be elected lieutenant governor on a ticket with then Senate President David Williams in 2011 that complaints began to surface about his management at the Agriculture Department.

Eventually, Farmer was charged with 42 ethics violations, the most charges ever filed against a single individual in the executive branch ethics commission's history.

The alleged violations included using workers on state time to take Farmer and his family to medical appointments, personal shopping trips and hunting trips. Farmer was also cited for using state workers and state resources to mow his lawn, build a basketball court in his back yard -- even chauffeur his dog.
Excessive gifts were purchased and then taken home by the defendant. He used state personnel to perform tasks for his personal benefit, including building a basketball court and driving him and his family to events and hunting trips. He hired friends and relatives and expected little from them. He had items such as laptops, personal refrigerators, filing cabinets purchased with state funds and then used them at home, keeping some of them after leaving office.

He pre-selected employees for merit positions, essentially rigging what should have been a competitive hiring process. Farmer also exhibited a pattern of requesting and expecting persons and businesses to give him things free of charge.

Farmer will have one more court appearance. On Friday, he is scheduled to be sentenced in Franklin Circuit Court on a state charge that he took thousands of dollars in funds left over from his 2007 election campaign by filing false expenses with the campaign.

Under his agreements with prosecutors, Farmer's sentence on this state charge will run concurrent with the time he serves in federal prison.


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