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Richie Farmer reports to federal prison

By: Steve Hensley, Tanner Hesterberg Email
By: Steve Hensley, Tanner Hesterberg Email
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MANCHESTER, Ky. (WYMT)- One of Kentucky's favorite sons is in federal prison.

Former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer on Tuesday reported to The United States Penitentiary-Hazelton in Bruceton, West Virginia.

Farmer is a former basketball star who pleaded guilty to misusing state money during his time leading the Ag Department and was sentenced to more than two years in prison.

Farmer was supposed to be behind bars last week, but a judge granted him extra time so he could watch his son play in Clay County's basketball game at the Sweet 16 state tournament in Rupp Arena.

Farmer will serve 27 months in jail.

He talked with WYMT last week at the state tournament.

"I could have never envisioned something like this happening," Farmer said. "It's been very very difficult but I guess you have to try to take it and make something positive out of it."

Farmer was Ag Commissioner from 2004 to 2011. He is best known for leading Clay County to a state championship in the late 1980s before playing at the University of Kentucky.

"It seems like in today's society people get a big thrill out of seeing people go through difficult times," Farmer said. "It's almost like it's entertainment to them. They don't realize that they're actually talking about real people with real lives and kids that are involved and families and feelings."

In addition to prison time, Farmer must also pay more than $120,000 in restitution to the state.

"There's so much of those allegations that are so far-fetched it's ridiculous," Farmer said. "If people knew the real truth, it's like, 'Are you kidding me?'"

Farmer said he is most concerned with how his three children will handle the situation.

His oldest son, Trey, is a sophomore at Clay County High School. He was a starter for the basketball team this season and helped lead the Tigers to a 13th region championship.

Midnight update:

In the stands instead of behind bars, Richie Farmer got to see his son play in the boys Sweet Sixteen in Rupp arena after his trip to federal prison was delayed by one week.

Farmer will begin a 27 month sentence on Tuesday after pleading guilty to misusing state funds as agriculture commissioner. Before the game, WYMT's Steve Hensley sat down with Richie and his son Trey as they reflected on a difficult, but also a special time in their lives.

Richie farmer and his son Trey have already shared some emotional moments this month. The elder Farmer said, “I went down on the floor after the regional tournament and he came over and he put his head on my shoulder and said I love you dad, and he just started crying...he started balling.”

Farmer was not optimistic a judge would grant his request and delay his report date to a West Virginia federal prison. He told us, “I wanted to do that so I knew that I had done everything to try and see him play and I wanted him to know that I'd done everything possible”

Trey says he has a great relationship with his father and has tried not to dwell on the negative. The Clay County sophomore said, “It kinda hurts sometimes when you think about it, but you've just got to stay positive and think of the future.”

Due to his prison sentence, this could be the one and only opportunity to see his oldest son play at Rupp Arena.

Richie farmer was a star at Clay County in the late 1980's and was a member of UK's” unforgettable” before becoming Kentucky's commissioner of agriculture. He admits making mistakes, but says he does not deserve prison time.

Richie says, “It's been like a nightmare that you can't wake up from that just kept getting worse and worse.” He says his focus right now is on his family, “I do love my boys more than anything in this whole world, they mean the world to me and this experience tonight is certainly going to mean more to me than anything I ever accomplished on the basketball court.”

Farmer says he could never have imagined he would be a federal prisoner and expects he will have plenty of time to think about the next chapter of his life.

Original Story:
From a basketball legend to a fan in the stands. Richie Farmer lived the dream as a star player at Clay County during the late 1980s.

Thursday though, he walks into Rupp Arena, simply a spectator, to watch his son play in the Sweet 16.

Farmer and his son sat down with us for an exclusive interview, just days before the former State Agriculture Commissioner heads to federal prison.

Richie Farmer says he did not think he would get to be here at Rupp Arena to watch his son play in the Sweet 16, but says he will cherish every second of it.

The Clay County native and former UK star was supposed to be in prison but a judge approved a delay by one week so he could attend the Boys' state tournament.

His oldest son Trey is a sophomore for the Tigers. In his first one on one interview since pleading guilty to using state resources for his own benefit, the former Agriculture Commissioner told me the last few weeks have been emotional, especially after the Tigers won the regional championship.

Richie Farmer says, "I went down on the floor after the regional championship. He came over and put his head on my shoulder and started crying, started balling. I started crying, the coaches started crying. It was a very emotional time. One of the coaches came to me and said that's big for him because he never shows any emotion.

His son Trey says, "He's been there throughout the whole year, kinda been my motivation for playing this year and I'm glad he got to come."

Richie Farmer will now report to a prison in West Virginia next Tuesday, March 25th. He told me he doesn't believe he deserved prison time.

So in just a little while, Trey Farmer will play on the same court where his father made so many memories as a Clay County Tiger and Kentucky Wildcat.

Clay County plays Covington Catholic at 8 p.m.

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