Former Ky. agriculture commissioner sentenced

KENTUCKY (KFVS) - Former Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Richard Dwight Farmer, Jr., was sentenced Tuesday, January 14.

Farmer was sentenced to more than two years in federal prison and one year supervised release for misappropriating public resources during his tenure in office.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove sentenced Farmer for theft from a program receiving federal funds. In addition to the prison term, Farmer will also be required to pay $120,500 in restitution to the Commonwealth of Kentucky and a special assessment of $200.

Judge Van Tatenhove released Farmer on his own recognizance and ordered Farmer to report to prison to begin serving his sentence on March 18 at 1 p.m. At a later date, the Bureau of Prisons will determine to which prison Farmer will report. Farmer will have to serve at least 85 percent of his prison sentence.

"We appreciate the Court's thoughtful decision regarding Mr. Farmer's sentence," said U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey. "This sad episode now concludes, but we hope that it sends a lasting message that neither political power nor celebrity places anyone above the law. The public has been well-served by the dedicated law enforcement officers and prosecutors who prepared and prosecuted this case – their commitment to the task is noteworthy and appreciated."

During his guilty plea in September 2013, Farmer admitted that he misappropriated a total of $120,500, by hiring friends who didn't perform work to justify their salaries and buying a number of items for his personal use with Kentucky Department of Agriculture funds.

Specifically, Farmer admitted that, in 2008, he used approximately $19,500 in KDA money to buy excessive gifts for a KDA sponsored conference. Farmer bought rifles, rifle cases, knives and gift cards, purportedly for use at the conference; but he actually took the items for his own use.

Farmer further acknowledged that, in both 2008 and 2011, he misappropriated thousands of dollars in labor cost by putting friends on the public payroll, knowing they would perform little or no actual work for the KDA.

Farmer was elected to two terms as Commissioner of Agriculture and was responsible for the supervision and administration of the KDA from January 2004 until January 2012.

He was indicted by a federal grand jury in April of last year.

The investigation was conducted by the Kentucky Attorney General's Office and the FBI.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth R. Taylor and Andrew T. Boone, and trial attorney Sean Mulryne with the Public Integrity Section of the United States Department of Justice.

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