Richie Farmer abused political role

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Former Kentucky 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 friends and had them do little to no work and also had state employees run errands, including having them 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 on the 1991-92 Kentucky team known as "The Unforgettables" for its gutsy play and for reviving the Wildcats after a couple of years on probation.

Prosecutors have said Farmer felt a sense of entitlement because of his fame.

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

"If you make bad decisions and poor judgments, you own up to them," Farmer 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 Farmer's 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 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 at Kentucky from 1988 to 1992 and had career averages of 7.6 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game.

The Unforgettables' season ended in an NCAA tournament regional final against Duke, often referred to as the greatest college game ever played. The heavily favored Blue Devils won an overtime thriller when Duke's Christian Laettner caught a long pass near the free throw line, took one dribble and hit a 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 Republican Party until an unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor in 2011 on a ticket with state Senate president David Williams. They lost overwhelmingly to incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, in part because of the brewing scandal.