Bank Foreclosing On Farmer's House

May 4, 2012

FRANKFORT, Ky.  -- A southeastern Kentucky bank has filed a foreclosure suit against former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer and his wife seeking more than $300,000 due on their mortgage loan of 2004.

First National Bank of Manchester filed suit Wednesday in Franklin Circuit, saying no payments have been made "since at least January."

Rebecca Farmer filed for divorce in April 2011, and the case is pending. Her attorney, Brian Logan, told The Courier-Journal that Richie Farmer is responsible for making payments under an agreement made in the divorce case.

"The parties agreed that Mr. Farmer would be solely responsible for the mortgage payments on the marital residence and assume all liability for the loan. Additionally Mr. Farmer agreed to refinance the loan on the marital residence solely in his name," Logan said.

Farmer's divorce attorney, Richard Guarnieri, declined comment because he doesn't represent Farmer in the foreclosure. Farmer, who left office in January, lives in the house. Rebecca Farmer lives elsewhere.

The bank is seeking to sell the house to pay off the amount owed and a court order directing the Farmers to pay the balance if the sale price doesn't cover the debt.

The suit comes on the heels of a state auditor's report that found "a toxic culture of entitlement and self-dealing" during Farmer's 2003-11 tenure as agriculture commissioner.

Auditor Adam Edelen found Farmer used state employees to take him on personal trips and build a basketball court in his backyard, violated state hiring laws, condoned time and travel abuses of close friends he had put on the payroll, and used his office to obtain gifts and state equipment.

The audit has been referred to the attorney general's office and state ethics commission.

Another of Farmer's attorney's, Guthrie True, has said the audit was politically motivated.

Also, Richie Farmer last month failed to meet the deadline for filing an annual personal financial disclosure statement with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission. State officials who held office in 2011 were required to file the report by April 16.

Katie Gabhart, general counsel for the commission, said Farmer is the only statewide elected official who failed to file the statement, which provides general information about an official's sources of income, assets and debts.

True said it was "an oversight" by Farmer and he will eventually file the statement.