Due to abusing his power as the state of Kentucky's agricultural commissioner and utilizing government funds for his own benefit, former Kentucky Wildcats basketball star Richie Farmer was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison on Tuesday, Jan. 14.
Tom Loftus of USA Today reported on the matter, which was a case of Farmer not only purchasing gifts for himself, but also creating a culture of cronyism and nepotism in hiring both friends and family to jobs they didn't show up for.
The Associated Press' Jay Arnold reports via WHAS.com that the sentencing was handed down on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. by Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove at the John C. Watts Federal Building in Frankfort, Ky.
Arnold logged what Farmer said as he addressed the court.
"I do understand I was head of the Department of Agriculture, I made some mistakes. I made some bad judgements. For that I am truly, truly sorry," said Farmer.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Taylor went into more detail about the two counts of misappropriating public funds that Farmer pleaded guilty to in September, per Loftus' report:
Excessive gifts were purchased and then taken home by the defendant. He used state personnel to perform tasks for his personal benefit, including building a basketball court and driving him and his family to events and hunting trips. [...]
He pre-selected employees for merit positions, essentially rigging what should have been a competitive hiring process. Farmer also exhibited a pattern of requesting and expecting persons and businesses to give him things free of charge.
Matt Jones of KentuckySportsRadio.com weighed in once he learned what Farmer's fate would be:
27 months in jail for Richie Farmer...wow. What a sad situation for one of my childhood heroes. Unfortunately, he deserves it.— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) January 14, 2014
Before Farmer heard what his sentencing would be, former Wildcats teammate and current Morehead State head coach Sean Woods expressed his empathy:
My thoughts & prayers are with my teammate and close friend Richie Farmer today in court . Let's hope it goes as best it can for him.— Sean Woods (@SeanWoodsMSU) January 14, 2014
James Comer, who now holds the agricultural position Farmer once did, weighed in, per WHAS Radio's Paul Miles:
KY Agriculture Commissioner James Comer on upcoming sentencing of Richie Farmer: "It's a sad day for Kentucky."— Paul Miles (@PaulMiles84) January 14, 2014
Brett Barrouquere of the Associated Press recorded what Judge Van Tatenhove had to say to Farmer on Tuesday:
It's pretty easy to be a hero to your kids when your jersey hangs in Rupp Arena. Your chance to be a dad and a good dad to your kids is exponential because now you get to tell them what to do when you fail.
It's sad to read...There is a sense of entitlement. There's greed ... kind of a culture of entitlement is not really understating it.
Farmer, 44, will begin his prison sentence on March 18 and must pay $120,500 to the state for his transgressions. Prior to this scandal unfolding, he was an immensely popular and glorified figure in Kentucky's rich basketball tradition.
According to Loftus, Farmer led his Clay County High School squad to the state championship in 1987 before going on to a successful career as a key cog in Lexington's powerhouse program.
University spokesman Jay Blanton said that Farmer's No. 32 jersey won't be removed from the rafters of Kentucky's home Rupp Arena.
As a member of the "Unforgettables" Wildcats squad in 1991-92, Farmer was a key contributor to a team whose run ended in the regional final of the NCAA tournament in an overtime loss to Duke.
Christian Laettner's buzzer-beating shot off a full-court pass from Grant Hill is among the most memorable plays in college basketball history, but it also overshadowed an overachieving Kentucky team just coming off heavy NCAA sanctions.
This unfortunate saga will also leave a permanent mark on Farmer's legacy that will be impossible to look past.