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Richie Farmer “deeply regrets the pain” inflicted on his family from plea deal that would put him in prison for 2 years

By ROGER ALFORD, Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A former University of Kentucky basketball star whose jersey hangs as a monument in the rafters of Rupp Arena has reached a plea deal with prosecutors in a government corruption case that would put him in prison for two years.

Richie Farmer, the sweet-shooting guard for a UK team dubbed “The Unforgettables” for their gutsy play, launched a political career that came crashing down during a bid for lieutenant governor two years ago when complaints began to surface about his management of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

Farmer’s attorney, Guthrie True of Frankfort, filed a motion for a change of plea Thursday morning, signaling that he has reached agreements to resolve all pending and potential criminal and ethics charges.

“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,” True said in a statement. “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.”

U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey said Farmer’s attorney cited several reasons why his client has decided to plead guilty.

“While various factors may influence any defendant’s decision to plead guilty, there is a common thread that motivates every guilty plea,” Harvey said in a statement. “Defendants plead guilty because they are guilty, and they understand that the prosecution is prepared to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Farmer had been scheduled to stand trial Oct. 22 on a five-count federal indictment. Instead, U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove is now expected to set a date for Farmer to enter the guilty plea, possibly as early as next week.

The deal True brokered also resolves 42 charges pending before the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, plus potentially more federal and state charges. Ethics Commission Executive Director John R. Steffen acknowledged Thursday that a tentative settlement has been reached with Farmer, pending final approval by members. He said he couldn’t discuss the terms of that agreement.

“Federal prosecutors have made clear their intention to bring a second federal indictment against Richie,” True said. “In addition, the Office of the Kentucky Attorney General intends to file charges against Richie and his sister alleging state law campaign finance violations. This means that Richie faces the prospect of defending against two multi-count indictments in federal court, a multi-count state court indictment, and ethics charges. This reality has proven to be physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially overwhelming for Richie and the entire Farmer family.”

Farmer, 44, was indicted in federal court in Lexington in April on four counts of misappropriating government property and money and one count of soliciting property in exchange for a government grant. He has remained free pending trial, though his travel was restricted to within Kentucky.

Farmer, who served as agriculture commissioner from 2004 through 2011, could have faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the five existing federal counts.

Prosecutors had said they would also seek $450,000 — the amount that was allegedly misappropriated — from Farmer, a Republican who was elected twice as agriculture commissioner in a state that is predominantly Democrat by voter registration.

The plea bargain whittles down not just the potential prison time but also the financial penalties. If the agreement is approved, Farmer would face a sentence of up to two years and three months in prison, and pay total fines and restitution of $120,500, True said.

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  1. LindaS

    Sure he regrets it now that he got caught and has to do the time for the crime. What made him thing he could get by with such ignorant acts? Did the pedestal we put him on make him think he could do no wrong ever? This man owned the state. Will is jersey continue to hang from the rafters?

    “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,” True said in a statement. “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.” And he would have gotten a lot more time then what he is getting now and would have had to pay a much larger fine too. I’m glad he is not putting his family through this, but he should have thought about them the first time he stepped over the line. There is right and wrong in every thing we do and you can’t tell me he didn’t know what he was doing was wrong.

    I know someone who worked on the audit. They said there was no way he was not guilty. It was almost a joke how much he had tried to get away with and people would not believe it. It is a shame one of our favorite Wildcats had to fall so far from grace as he got older. Sure it wasn’t drugs, selling tickets, murder, or manslaughter but it was misusing state funds, lying to the citizens of the Commonwealth and thinking he could do no wrong. No ethics or integrity, no conscious, no understanding of self worth. Am I disappointed? Yes. Will I forgive him? I don’t know. Is he human? Yes. Is that an excuse? No, not when you are a Wildcat.

  2. donv

    Lost all respect for Richie. Think he got a great plea dea. What about his sister?

  3. Theresa Crow

    Richie was one of my favorites and maybe the adulation of the BBN made him think he was invincible, but surely a boy raised in Clay County did not abandon all common sense with which he was raised? He abused the power of his office and the trust of all the folks of the Commonwealth. I have not lived in Kentucky for many years so I never voted for Richie, but I would have had I lived there at the time he was running for office–I would have been like all the other people who felt that because he brought pride back to UK basketball and the BBN, he would do the state proud in public office and I would have been just as wrong as all those other people, too. I guess the pedestal we gave him was just too high. I am sorry for the embarrassment he has dealt his family, the BBN and the Commonwealth. Based on what I have been reading from the media, it does not seem that he truly understands what he has done is wrong–I hope that he comes to that understanding during the time he spends in a federal prison though for only then can he begin to make amends to his former constitutents and fans.

  4. Theresa Crow

    One other thing I found interesting is that U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey is also another good ol’ Kentucky boy born and raised (I knew him when we both were at Murray State), graduated from UK School of Law and practiced law in Benton, KY, for many years before moving up the ranks. Sometimes you have to smile at the irony of one good ol’ Kentucky boy prosecuting another very prominent good ol’ Kentucky boy…

  5. grant

    Look I am not going to pile on here. I would just say that life as we know it is full of choices and forks in the road. So while I relish his playing days at Kentucky , he made some bad choices and UK player or not , sometimes you have to pay when you play.

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