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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Former Kentucky Agriculture commissioner and UK basketball star Richie Farmer has been sentenced to 27 months in prison for stealing from a federal program.
Farmer reached a plea deal in September of 2013 that allowed him to avoid a longer sentence.
Defense attorney Guthrie True said at the time that "Richie deeply regrets the pain which has been inflicted on his family, as well as any embarrassment he has caused the good people of Kentucky. In part, this is why he has decided to bring an end to what would have turned into a spectacle which would have run on for months, if not years."
As part of his plea deal, Farmer admitted he put friends on the public payroll who did little or no work and using taxpayer dollars to buy personal gifts.
The U.S. Attorney called the evidence "overwhelming."
"Too often, Mr. Farmer looked upon his office and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture more as a personal playhouse than as an opportunity to render public service," said Kerry Harvey, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
Kenneth Taylor, the Assistant U.S. Attorney, said during the sentencing, "The sentence should speak to others who might be tempted to do what Mr. Farmer has done."
"I made some mistakes. I made some poor judgements. I would just like to say publicly I'm sorry for all those things," said Farmer during court proceedings.
During the sentencing, U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove said, "This is about upholding the public's trust. They expect accountability when we fail. Part of my job today is to hold you accountable. When mistakes are made, we hold the individuals responsible accountable."
Farmer was the guard for a UK team that ended up being called "The Unforgettables." He used his fame on the court to launch a political career, and eventually became the head of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture for two terms.
In 2011, when Farmer was running campaigning to be elected lieutenant governor on a ticket with then-Senate President David Williams, complaints began to surface about his management at the Agriculture Department.
Farmer was originally charged with 42 ethics violations -- the most charges ever filed against a single individual in the executive branch ethics commission's history.
The alleged violations included using workers on state time to take Farmer and his family to medical appointments, personal shopping trips, and hunting trips.
Farmer was also cited for using state workers and state resources to mow his lawn, build a basketball court in his back yard -- even chauffeur his dog.
In addition to the time in prison, Farmer has been ordered to pay $120,500 in restitution to the state. After he is released, Farmer will be on supervised probation for one year.
Farmer must surrender himself to authorities on March 18, 2014.