Richie Farmer indicted by federal grand jury

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - WKYT News has learned that former agriculture secretary Richie Farmer has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

The indictment was filed Friday, April 19, it was unsealed Monday morning. The federal grand jury indicted Farmer with four counts of misappropriating property and funds of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Farmer is also charged with one county of soliciting property of value in exchange for intending to be influenced in KDA matters.

According to the indictment, Farmer abused his authority throughout his tenure, using KDA funds to obtain rifles, clothes, hotel rooms, computer equipment and home appliances, all for himself, friends and family.

If convicted on all counts, Farmer faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

We learned just a month ago that Kentucky's former agriculture commissioner, Richie Farmer, had been charged with 42 violations of the state's ethics laws during his time in Frankfort.

The commission had never charged one person with this many violations before.

Seven pages of the 14-page summary were solely counts against Farmer.

Farmer's sister, Rhonda Monroe, and Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Bruce Harper were among six others charged along with Farmer last month on ethics violations. They each face three counts. Monroe holds the position of assistant executive director in the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. The others charged with ethics violations no longer work for the state.

The state's Executive Branch Ethics Commission accused Farmer of misusing state funds and state employees during his time in office and placing his friends in jobs that had no specified duties, asking them to carry out his personal errands.

The charges against Farmer date back to 2008. He is accused of several violations surrounding a conference with the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture. During that conference in particular, Farmer was accused of having employees misuse state funds to take visiting Agriculture Commissioners' wives on shopping trips to Fayette Mall. While buying gifts for the visiting commissioners, he allegedly kept the extras for his own personal benefit, including firearms, alcohol, candy and shirts.

Farmer is also accused of using state employees to chauffeur him, his family and even his dog to doctors' appointments and on personal shopping trips, to landscape his back yard, clean his garage and even build a basketball court at his home in Frankfort.

He also faces allegations of using state funds to purchase items for his personal benefit, including laptops for his family and cabinets for his personal home office. And he is accused of using his influence and the promise of grant money to a private business in exchange for three vehicles, two for himself and one for his father.

Another allegation against Farmer is that he influenced the Department to hire a woman he had an ongoing intimate relationship with, placing her under his direct supervision and allowing her to falsely claim work time over a six-week period.

Farmer was a shooting guard for the University of Kentucky's Wildcats basketball team from 1988 to 1992.

Farmer currently sells cars in his hometown of Manchester.

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