By Beth Musgrave
FRANKFORT — Federal prosecutors want the trial of former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer moved to this fall and say defense lawyers’ request to move the trial to February 2014 is unreasonable, according to documents filed Thursday.
Lawyers for Farmer filed a motion earlier this week asking U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove to delay the July 2 trial until February 2014 “at the earliest.” J. Guthrie True, a lawyer for Farmer, said he had multiple scheduling conflicts and more than 16 compact discs of evidence against Farmer to review, making a July 2 trial impossible.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Taylor, in a response filed in the federal court case, agreed that the case against Farmer — who faces multiple charges of misusing more than $450,000 in taxpayer funds — is complex but said that delaying the trial to February 2014 was “excessive.” Taylor asked that the judge set a trial date for the fall. Taylor noted in court filings that the case against Farmer is “an important case of public interest, and litigation should proceed at a reasonable pace.”
Farmer has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges stemming from his eight-year tenure as the state’s top agriculture chief. Farmer is accused of hiring friends and a girlfriend for high salaries and few responsibilities, taking guns and other gifts ordered for a 2008 conference, and taking computers, filing cabinets and other state equipment for his personal use.
Farmer, a former University of Kentucky basketball player and fan favorite, was state agriculture commissioner from 2004 to 2011.
He ran for lieutenant governor in 2012, with David Williams as the Republican gubernatorial candidate.