Richie Farmer pleads not guilty to federal charges

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky sports hero turned politician Richie Farmer has pleaded not guilty to charges related to his management of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

Farmer, 43, appeared Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Wier in Lexington for a brief arraignment hearing. His attorney, Guthrie True, entered a not guilty plea for him.

Farmer will be free until his trial which is set for July 2 in Frankfort.

Farmer is a state basketball icon whose jersey hangs from the rafters of Rupp Arena. He was charged in an indictment earlier this week with four counts of misappropriating government property and money and one count of soliciting property in exchange for a government grant.

The extent of those accusations include Farmer allegedly using department employees for personal use, such as doing landscaping at his home and building a basketball court there as well. He is also accused having employees chaffer around his dog and family on shopping trips and to doctor's appointments.

Farmer served as agriculture commissioner from 2004 through 2011. He could face up to 10 years in prison and a 250,000 dollar fine for each of the five counts.

Farmer arrived minutes before his arraignment at four o'clock Thursday afternoon and then left a little more than an hour later. He was accompanied by his parents and attorney. Farmer never made a comment to the media before or after his arraignment. His attorney spoke for him.

The judge did set conditions on Farmer's bond, saying he may not leave the state or have contact with any witnesses.

Farmer is also not allowed to discuss the case with anyone and may only contact his ex-wife for family matters.

Farmer's attorney did ask if his client could go on a trip to Cancun with his significant other. The judge denied the request saying he's never allowed such a request before in his courtroom. True, Farmer's attorney, stated after the arraignment that he wished Farmer "could go to Cancun."

The judge also requested that Farmer search for gainful employment.

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