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Press Release

Former Agriculture Commissioner Admits To Misappropriating Department Funds

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Kentucky

FRANKFORT, KY - Former Kentucky Department of Agriculture Commissioner, Richard Dwight Farmer, Jr., admitted in federal court today that he misappropriated public resources during his tenure in office.

Farmer pleaded guilty to two counts of theft from a program receiving federal funds. Farmer entered into an agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office which, if approved by the Court, will require him to serve a prison sentence of 21 to 27 months. Additionally, Farmer agreed to pay $120,500 in restitution to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove released Farmer on his own recognizance until his sentencing hearing on January 14, 2014.

Farmer admitted that he misappropriated a total of $120,500 by hiring friends who didn’t perform work to justify their salaries, and purchasing a number of items for his personal use with KDA funds.

Specifically, Farmer admitted that in 2008 he used approximately $19,500 in KDA money to buy excessive gifts for a KDA sponsored conference. Farmer purchased rifles, rifle cases, knives, and gift cards, purportedly for use at the conference that he actually appropriated to his own use. Farmer further acknowledged that in both 2008 and 2011 he misappropriated thousands of dollars in labor cost by putting friends on the public payroll, knowing they would perform little or no actual work for the KDA.

“Mr. Farmer admitted today that he engaged in a course of criminal conduct which constitutes an egregious abuse of the public trust,” said United States Attorney Kerry B. Harvey. “The people of Kentucky deserved better from Mr. Farmer. I hope that his acknowledgement of guilt will, in some small way, begin to repair the inevitable damage done when an elected official uses his public office to enrich himself through a criminal scheme. I appreciate the excellent work of the prosecutors and law enforcement officers who did the work necessary to bring this matter to a successful conclusion.”

Farmer was elected to two terms as Commissioner of Agriculture and was responsible for the supervision and administration of the KDA from January 2004 until January 2012.

A federal grand jury indicted Farmer in April of this year.

Kerry B. Harvey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Perrye Turner, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, and Jack Conway, Kentucky Attorney General, jointly announced the plea today.

The investigation was conducted by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office and the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth R. Taylor and Andrew T. Boone, and trial attorney Sean Mulryne with the Public Integrity Section of the United States Department of Justice.

Updated November 25, 2015