Current and former Wildcats react to Farmer's plea deal - News, Weather & Sports

Current and former Wildcats react to Farmer's plea deal

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Richie Farmer Richie Farmer
John Calipari John Calipari
Adam Edelen Adam Edelen
Jack Conway Jack Conway
Derek Anderson Derek Anderson

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Former University of Kentucky basketball star and former State Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer is going to prison.

"He's a big part of (the University of) Kentucky's program and I hope everything goes well for he and his family," said UK head men's basketball coach John Calipari. 

Hours after it was announced that one of UK's all time favorites is headed to prison, Coach Cal and other current and former Cats in Louisville for a charity fundraiser Thursday night can only hope that Farmer has a better game plan for his future. 

A celebrated high school standout and a Kentucky Mr. Basketball, Farmer couldn't have been more loved by Wildcat fans in the 1990's as one of the "Unforgetables." But prosecutors say what he did to the people who twice elected him to State Agriculture Commissioner is unimaginable, unbelievable and unthinkable - using state money and state staffers whenever he felt like it. 

They say Farmer asked state employees to build a basketball court in his backyard, mow his lawn and drive him and his dog around to run errands. Expensive gifts like custom rifles, knives and watches ended up in Farmer's house.

"For eight years he ran the Department of Agriculture like it was his own candy shop and he significantly improved his personal position at the public detriment," said Adam Edelen, The Kentucky State Auditor.

Federal and state investigators were onto Farmer. They allege Farmer's sister, who until recently worked for the State Registry of Election Finance, tried to help him cover it up.

"The investigation uncovered that his sister, Rhonda Monroe, assisted Farmer in committing this crime," said Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway.

In the end, those moves cost Farmer his marriage, job and freedom.

Former Wildcat Derek Anderson told WAVE 3 News it can't get any worse for Farmer now and if he's willing to change he'll be glad to help him move on.

"How do you come back from that?" Anderson asked. "What do you do to change things around? For him, everyone has to learn from their mistakes and I don't see anything for him except moving up."

According to Farmer's lawyer the plea deal will help him avoid the emotional and financial burdens which would result from three criminal trials and a lengthy ethics hearing. Farmer will likely spend two years in prison and pay $120,000 in fines and restitution.

"I think the fact that he is going to have to surrender his freedom for what appears to be a least a couple of years is a significant message to anybody else that thinks about abusing the public trust," said Edelen.

Kerry Harvey, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, made it clear in a statement that it would have been easy to prove the case against Farmer.

"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," the statement from Harvey said.

Farmer's attorney wants to enter the guilty plea by September 12 or 13. It will be determined then when he will go to prison.

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