Archive for Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Jeremy Farmer pleads guilty to stealing thousands of dollars from nonprofit food pantry

Former Lawrence Mayor Jeremy Farmer enters the Frank Carlson Federal Building on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016, in Topeka. Farmer was appearing on a charge of embezzling funds during his time as the executive director of Just Food.

Former Lawrence Mayor Jeremy Farmer enters the Frank Carlson Federal Building on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016, in Topeka. Farmer was appearing on a charge of embezzling funds during his time as the executive director of Just Food.

September 28, 2016, 11:56 a.m. Updated September 28, 2016, 2:55 p.m.

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Former Lawrence Mayor Jeremy Farmer pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Topeka to one count of interstate transportation of stolen funds stemming from his time as leader of the Lawrence food bank Just Food.

Farmer, 33, had originally pleaded not guilty on Sept. 8 to the felony but changed his plea to guilty on Wednesday.

Neither he nor his attorney, John Cowles, would comment Wednesday on the case.

Farmer admitted to the court that the theft of thousands of dollars took place while he was executive director of the nonprofit Just Food, whose mission is to feed the hungry in Douglas County.

He was hired at Just Food in 2011 and resigned from that position — and from his seat on the Lawrence City Commission — in August 2015. His resignation came about after it was revealed he had not paid more than $50,000 in federal and state payroll taxes on behalf of Just Food.

At the time Farmer said the taxes were unpaid due to an oversight.

Farmer also admitted on Wednesday to changing Just Food’s financial documents to conceal his embezzlement.

Though the felony charge Farmer pleaded guilty to says that he stole more than $5,000, estimates from Just Food have placed that number closer to $55,000.

U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia accepted Farmer’s plea and ordered the completion of a pre-sentence investigation.

Depending on Farmer’s criminal history, which will be a part of the pre-sentence investigation, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Murguia allowed Farmer to continue to be free on a bond of $5,000.

Sentencing will be set at a later date.

News of Farmer’s guilty plea offered no joy to Just Food’s board of directors, said board president Will Katz.

“It’s not like a day of celebration for Just Food or anything like that,” he said. “We’ve been through a lot in the last 14 months and the board of directors, staff and volunteers have tried to stay pretty rooted in the present and the future.”

As for restitution from Farmer, Katz said Just Food isn't counting on it. That's “something we pretty much left in the hands of the court system,” he said. “It’s not anything we have control over.”

Every day, Just Food serves between 150 to 200 families, said Executive Director Elizabeth Keever. Last year the nonprofit saw a 10 percent clientele increase and this year’s increase is closer to 15 percent, she said.

“Just Food is going strong one year later,” she said.

The nonprofit’s ability to move forward in the past year, however, might not have been possible without the community’s support, Keever said.

On Oct. 6 Just Food will host its Founder’s Dinner at Abe & Jake's Landing, 8 E. Sixth St., Keever said. There the pantry will celebrate its seventh anniversary, thank the community and offer information about future plans.

“Without the community’s support there might not have been a seventh anniversary,” she said.

Just Food client Jennifer Coffman, 55, had stronger words about Farmer Wednesday after hearing about his guilty plea.

“If I didn’t have Just Food, I wouldn’t eat the last two weeks of the month,” she said. “He took food out of people's mouths. People who need it. People who would starve without it.”

Comments

Brenda Bonzer 1 year ago

They'd have just used the money to feed hungry people anyway.

Rick Masters 1 year ago

So it's fine that he stole it? That's sound.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year ago

Sarcasm is how I was reading it, but nowadays you can't be sure. There are people who would rather see people starve, than help them.

Brenda Bonzer 1 year ago

No, there aren't actually people like that. Many liberals pretend that conservatives think like that, though.

Lisa Rasor 1 year ago

He owes Lawrence an apology, but I doubt we'll get one from that lying con artist. I hope the judge does order restitution--with interest.

Michael Dennis 1 year ago

He looks like he embezzled the food. Low blow but the SOB deserves it.

Gary Pomeroy 1 year ago

And the "vetting" before he was elected on his background and character? I guess just an "oversight."

Cille King 1 year ago

Here is a link to his campaign contributions. Do you see a connection between some of the larger contributors? Some of the money stolen from Just Foods played a part. http://www.douglas-county.com/mycounty/voting-and-elections/docs/reports/city/lawrencecitycommission/candreport_jfarmer_021813.pdf

Mary Lee Norris 1 year ago

Why is he allowed to run around free before the sentencing? Obviously, he's guilty. He has now admitted it. He should be behind bars.

Chelsea Kapfer 1 year ago

A sentence will determine how long you go to jail, if there's no sentence then there's no order to go to jail. That's how that works.

Mary Lee Norris 1 year ago

From the article above: "Murguia allowed Farmer to continue to be free on a bond of $5,000.." Obviously, if being remanded into custody before sentencing never happened, Murguia would not have had any choice in "allowing" farmer to be free on bond, and there would be no reason for the article to note the judge's choice. There are plenty of cases in which the person pleading guilty is held until sentencing. This is not at all uncommon. In cases where someone has entered a guilty plea and is held in custody prior to sentencing, that sentence will include credit for time served.

But my comment was really only an expression of annoyance that the dirt bag is still at liberty. He has behaved deplorably, start to finish, and (IMO--which is not a legal position but an OPINION) deserves to lose his freedom. That's really all I was saying.

Paul Jones 1 year ago

Like the developer who was involved in the Junction City city commissioner's payoffs and who took the fall for the ticket scandal alone there is something very fishy about this Farmer deal. A man who comes from nowhere to become mayor just like that.

Will White 1 year ago

Clearly a con man. Don't fault those who believed in him in the beginning. That is how con-men work. They gain the trust of their victims in order to manipulate and steal from them. Remember Frank Abagnale, Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay (Enron)? They fooled many smart people. Don't for a second think the "victims" are to blame.

Paul Jones 1 year ago

Oh come on now, the head of a food bank rises to the top of city government? There are more than just one con man in this town but the big ones just keep sliding by getting more and more from the taxpayers.

Gary Pomeroy 1 year ago

Would the Guv qualify for that list?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year ago

He will probably get probation. Give some kid 20 years for smoking pot, but some one stealing money, and worse, stealing from a charity, and you get probation. Will the Just Food board get a chance to testify at the sentencing? Will the Just Food clients get to. How about those of us who have donated to Just Food. I think the hearing should go on for days, and that he should have to sit there with no breaks listening to his victims.

Will White 1 year ago

Unfortunately, you are probably right, but I really hope he spends some time in a cell. Stealing from a charity that was/is doing good work is unforgivable.

Brenda Bonzer 1 year ago

He'll probably get some real jail time. The amount is almost certainly already decided as part of a plea bargain.

Cases where the defendant is a member of government get hit extra hard by the feds. And the fact that this is not his first time won't weigh in his favor.

Yes, I know he was never charged or convicted previously. But the investigators almost certainly ran down the previous employers. That had yo factor into whatever plea bargain is in place.

Steve Sharp 1 year ago

Basically there are two kinds of people, ones that are straightforward and pretty much try to do the right thing and those that are bent. Those who are bent will revert to criminality as their first choice. This man obviously had talents and a lot going for him but he couldn't overcome his bentness. Everything is fluid however and perhaps this is just what Mr. Farmer needed (a 10 year prison sentence) to turn his life around.

David Holroyd 1 year ago

Does anyone really think the Board of Just Food would testify? The board should be on the stand for allowing Mr. Farmer to do what he did. That board may have been volunteer, but come on,,,,it was made up of lawyers, lawyer's wives, bank officers, former city commissoners, university of kansas professional folks with degrees that they tout...and they were DECEIVED.

Anyone who served on the board while Mr.Farmer was the CEO (another fake hollywood title for manager!) should not be on any board in Lawrence if they weren't any sharper than they were with Mr. Farmer.

I still would like to know about "conversations" (Mr. Farmer's favorite term now replaced by Mr. Markus's "listening posts". Those conversations Mr. Farmer had with the HERE developers, with various city officials including the police chief with regard to the proposed new police office building and also the conversations with his travelin' buddies while in Amsterdam..those buddies being a former commissioner and one a member of a group that supported Mr. Farmer in his campaign.

I hope he was smart enough to get his travelin' buddies to pay for the plane ticket,car rental and tickets to Monty Python.

How much did that first class cabin cost anyway on United?

Bob Summers 1 year ago

At least this Liberal guy is not deplorable or irredeemable.

Is he aware that Moon Beam, in Liberal California,recently allowed felons to vote?

Maybe he has time to get out there to vote for Clinton.

David Holroyd 1 year ago

So, Ms. Cille King....how do you interpret the $900 Mr. Farmer donated to the campaign, and then the same amount shows up as a loan?

There is another list of donors that is more interesting....do you have those years?

Samantha Martin 1 year ago

David H. the two people that know all about the trip to Eruope could be asked a lot of questions. Gary Rexroad and former city commissioner Mike Dever were Farmers travel buddies. Why would those two guys travel to Europe for a week with Farmer? odd, really odd.

Was it a dream vacation for three close friends or a business trip.

David Holroyd 1 year ago

Now Ms. Martin, just what kind of business would the musketeers be up to? A dream vacation for three close friends? Wow...I would rather travel by myself.

They were pretty foolish to put photos of the trip on facebook pages though. Will they take selfies again?

I really do not see how those fhree could have been close friends, really I don't.

But I wonder if Ms. King has had the opportunity to review the names of other donors to Mr. Farmer's campaigns? Someone may beat me to it, but I shall need to look at the lists again.

But putting the info online sadly, never gets to the public as the Journal World will not print what is printed with regard to the comments section.

If the Ogden family wanted to sell papers..they would sell more papers and make more money by printing a weekly section devoted to "comments" Who cares about Mother Earth news.?

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