By Beth Musgrave
FRANKFORT — A federal judge has rescheduled the trial of former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer to Oct. 22.
Attorneys for Farmer had asked to delay the original July 2 trial date to February 2014 because of the complexity of the case and scheduling conflicts. Federal prosecutors argued in court documents that a seven month delay was too long and asked for a fall trial date. The trial is expected to last three weeks.
In his Wednesday order, U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove said Farmer’s lawyers will need additional time to prepare for trial but not until February.
Farmer has filed a waiver to his right to a speedy trial but an undue delay could hurt the public, Van Tatenhove said.
“Farmer is a former public official, who is accused of abusing the public’s money and trust,” Van Tatenhove wrote. “Therefore, the court must consider the public’s right to have the matter expeditiously resolved as well.”
Farmer is accused of hiring friends for jobs with high salaries and few responsibilities, taking guns and other gifts intended for a 2008 agriculture conference and taking state-owned computers, refrigerators and filing cabinets for his personal use. Farmer has pleaded not guilty. The federal government is also asking Farmer to repay $450,000, the amount of taxpayer money he allegedly misused.
Farmer, a former University of Kentucky basketball player, was agriculture commissioner from 2004 to 2011. He was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2011.
Federal prosecutors have already turned over 16 compact discs containing evidence that could be used against Farmer at trial. Farmer’s lawyers have also asked for more discovery, including criminal records of all potential witnesses and summaries of witness testimony.