Richie Farmer reaches plea deal to end government corruption case

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - He says he regrets any embarrassment he caused the people of Kentucky. Former state agriculture commissioner and UK basketball player Richie Farmer says he will plead guilty to charges involving government corruption.

The charges stem from Farmer's two terms as agriculture commissioner.

"The audit outlined a myriad of disturbing incidents that included hiring of friends and girlfriends with high salaries and few responsibilities, taking guns and other gifts intended for a 2008 convention, and theft of state property," remarked Attorney General Jack Conway.

Conway filed state charges against Farmer and his sister Thursday afternoon, alleging Farmer spent campaign funds improperly and his sister, Rhonda Monroe, helped him.

"I hope it sends a message to every person who has the public trust in Kentucky that if you violate that trust you will be held accountable," noted Auditor Adam Edelen. Edelen said right now, no one is taking pleasure out of what's happened to a man many once held in high regard.

"No matter who you are or how important or famous you think that you might be, the law believes that you have to be treated exactly the same as the rest of us."

U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey released a statement Thursday. He says, "Today, an attorney for former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richard Dwight Farmer, Jr., issued a press release announcing his client’s intent to plead guilty to felony charges pending against him in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky."

Harvey continued, "Mr. Farmer’s attorney states in his release that Mr. Farmer has decided to plead guilty for several reasons. While various factors may influence any defendant’s decision to plead guilty, there is a common thread that motivates every guilty plea: defendants plead guilty because they are guilty, and they understand that the prosecution is prepared to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

Harvey says, "While Mr. Farmer’s press release has created a good deal of interest in this matter, our office will not have any further substantive comment on the matter until after the next court proceeding."

Current Agriculture Commissioner James Comer told WKYT his office is moving forward.

"It's a sad day for everyone involved, but I think it's good to the Department of Agriculture. We can move forward. This has never slowed us down any. This investigation, it's been time consuming, it's taken up a lot of man power, but our goal is to achieve good things at the department," said Comer.

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