Whitesburg KY

Farmer’s trouble started pre-2008

Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer’s “unwarranted sense of entitlement” goes beyond what he’s been charged with, federal prosecutors said in a court filing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Taylor said in a notice filed in court late Friday that the government intends to introduce testimony and other evidence that Farmer misappropriated and misused public resources before 2008, the last year listed in an indictment.

Because of a five-year statute of limitations, Taylor said Farmer could not be charged with anything that may have happened before 2008.

Farmer is a former University of Kentucky basketball player who was elected agriculture commissioner in 2003 and 2007. He has pleaded not guilty to four counts of misappropriating government funds for the benefit of himself, his family and friends.

The indictment said Farmer used an account that mingled private and government funds to purchase gifts, including customized Remington rifles and embossed Case knives, for visiting state agriculture commissioners during a 2008 national conference. The indictment alleges Farmer kept many of the gifts for himself.

On the solicitation count, the grand jury alleged Farmer in 2009 accepted an unidentified “thing of value” from a motor vehicle dealership in Whitley County in exchange for a state grant.

His trial has been set for Oct. 22.

Taylor also said there will be evidence offered that indicates that Farmer “committed fraud with regard to the filing of campaign finance reports.” Farmer was not indicted on any campaign finance matters. Taylor said this alleged fraud was the basis of civil ethics charges brought against Farmer in March by the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.

Also charged by the ethics commission in March was Farmer’s sister Rhonda Monroe, who is assistant executive director of the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. The ethics charges allege Monroe helped Farmer get excessive expense payments from his 2007 re-election campaign by filing false records with the election registry. Monroe has been placed on 60-day paid leave while registry officials review the matter.

Taylor also said that during the trial prosecutors intend to offer testimony about Farmer improperly influencing personnel matters other than the three employees referenced in his indictment, and evidence of improper spending and pressuring vendors to provide him goods and services not included in the indictment.

Taylor also said there’s evidence of “other misconduct evidence” that is still being evaluated.

Farmer has been unemployed since he left office in December 2011, except for a brief stint as a car salesman in his hometown of Manchester.

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