Ex-UK star Farmer sentenced

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, January 15, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Former University of Kentucky basketball star Richie Farmer was sentenced Tuesday to more than two years in prison for abusing his power as the state’s agriculture commissioner.

Farmer hired his friends and had them do little to no work, and used state employees to run errands, including having them to build a basketball court at his home, prosecutors said. He was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $120,500 in restitution.

Farmer was a shooting guard for the 1991-1992 team known as “The Unforgettables” for their gutsy play and for turning the Wildcats around after a couple of years on probation. Prosecutors have said Farmer felt a sense of entitlement because of his fame.

Email newsletter signup

Outside the courthouse, Richie apologized but didn’t talk specifically about what he had done.

“If you make bad decisions and poor judgments, you own up to them,” he said.

He will report to prison March 18.

Farmer pleaded guilty in September to two counts of misappropriating government resources.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors and Farmer agreed to a sentencing range of 21 to 27 months. Prosecutors asked for all of that while his attorney argued for less than two years.

Prosecutors have outlined a wide-range of abuses by Farmer during his eight years in office, including using state employees for personal business and keeping some items, such as laptops, small refrigerators and filing cabinets after leaving office in 2012.

As a high school standout, Farmer was named Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball in 1988. He played shooting guard for Kentucky from 1988 to 1992, and had career averages of 7.6 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game.

The Wildcats’ run in the NCAA Tournament ended in a regional final against Duke, a matchup often cited as the greatest college game ever played. The heavily favored Blue Devils survived an overtime thriller when Duke forward Christian Laettner caught a long pass near the free throw line, took one dribble and hit the jump shot at the buzzer to win the game.

It was Kentucky’s first trip to the postseason after a two-year ban for NCAA infractions. Farmer and teammates Deron Feldhaus, Sean Woods, and John Pelphrey became well-known and their jerseys, including Farmer’s No. 32, were retired.

Farmer had been a rising star within the Kentucky GOP until an unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor in 2011 on a ticket with Republican state Senate President David Williams. They lost overwhelmingly to incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, in part because of the brewing scandal.