Farmer's Market: Pitino Pupil Goes From UK Prime Time to Jail Time

When foreboding reports of Kentucky favorite Richie Farmer's faulty financial fundamentals first flared up, Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who had well-documented personal problems of his own several years ago, said: "I love Richie Farmer, always will love Richie Farmer. He can do no wrong in my eyes. So I don't know what you're talking about. And if he did something wrong, I'll pray for him."

Well, new Hall of Famer Pitino probably didn't find out via poisonous social media but should know more now and better start using some knee pads because there was Hoop Hall of Shame wrongdoing as Farmer was sentenced to 27 months in prison after entering a guilty plea to government corruption. A four-month audit generated allegations there was a "toxic culture of entitlement" in the Kentucky Department of Agriculture under Farmer, an icon in his native state despite averaging a modest 9.6 ppg for the legendary 1991-92 Pitino-coached UK squad dubbed "The Unforgettables." Farmer played in a record five Sweet 16 classics, starting with eighth grade and ending as a high school senior guard who erupted for 51 points in the 1989 state championship contest.

Farmer was accused of using state workers to run his personal errands during his eight years in office as agriculture commissioner. The alleged rampant abuse included taking him hunting (allegedly shot a doe from the passenger seat of state-issued vehicle and told a merit employee to field dress it for him), shopping and doctor visits, mowing his lawn, chauffeuring his dog, reserving questionable hotel rooms, moving a gun safe from his garage to basement and building a basketball court in his backyard. The far-reaching audit, resulting in 42 ethics violations, alleged misuse of state resources. There were reports claiming Farmer spent state money on a 60-inch television so he could watch college basketball in his office, questioned whether he gave his girlfriend/mistress any work to do after putting her on his agency's payroll with a $5,000/month state job and pondered the condition of two returned laptop computers that were "'wiped' in an uncharacteristically aggressive manner."

Did athlete adulation prevent any honorable whistleblower from coming forward during Farmer's stewardship or lack thereof? The report, triggering public pillorying, highlighted a lavish 2008 conference costing the taxpayers almost $100,000 and included gifts such as 25 Remington rifles worth $449 apiece, 52 knives, 50 cigar boxes, 30 $50 mall gift cards, 175 watches and 50 bottles of bourbon. Only 13 of 17 member commissioners attended the conference and the audit reveals Farmer took a majority of the remaining gifts. One of the rifles had a customized #32, which was Farmer's jersey number during his playing days with the Wildcats and hangs from the rafters of their arena. Unforgettably, he reportedly used products purchased by his department and donated by vendors to create gift baskets for his family members and a relative was employed for nearly five years as an amusement ride inspector despite never receiving certification to do the work.

The audit wasn't amusing at all when considering Farmer declined to participate in budget furloughs mandated by the legislature because of serious deficits facing the commonwealth while some of his department's employees apparently had unjustified state vehicles. Farmer, who faced home foreclosure while in the midst of a divorce, failed in his bid to become lieutenant governor several years ago amid rumors he melted down over a campaign manager refusing to reimburse him for hundreds of dollars worth of candy purchases. Farmer's attorney, originally saying he would be "shocked" if the state attorney general found grounds for criminal charges, also claimed his "somewhat idol" client was accustomed to "receiving gifts you or I might not receive."

National officials can also get caught with their hands and every other appendage in the cookie jar. A GSA (Government Services Administration) salacious scandal preceding IRS shenanigans and eavesdropping on U.S. citizen communiques has fueled immense distrust of the government.

An unprecedented animosity seems to be escalating toward greedy segments of government milking the taxpayer and insisting on spending money the country or specific state doesn't have and feeling they can orchestrate guidelines to their wily whims. Lingering amid the unaccountability, House Republicans, perceiving disregard for the Constitution, pursued a contempt citation against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder stemming from his failure to divulge sufficient documents about the "Fast and Furious" ATF "gunwalking" operation selling 1,500 firearms to Mexican drug cartels. The nation's top cop, treating the DOJ as a partisan sanctuary city according to detractors, appeared to be shedding as much information on the controversial ATF topic as the number of FGM he had for Columbia's freshman basketball squad in 1969-70 (misfired on all four field-goal attempts).

At any rate, if you're interested in political players good and bad on and off the court, has conducted extensive research on "unforgettable" politicians and political appointees who were college hoopsters.