Archive for Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ex-Lawrence mayor asks court for exception: probation instead of prison for embezzling from food bank

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.

August 2, 2017

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Former Lawrence mayor Jeremy Farmer — soon to be sentenced for stealing from a charity he once led — has asked for a lighter penalty than what sentencing guidelines demand for his crime.

Saying he has cooperated with authorities and maintained a steady job, Farmer asked a judge to grant him probation instead of prison for his guilty plea to embezzling funds from the Lawrence food bank Just Food, according to a motion for variance filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Kansas by his attorney, John Cowles. While no amount is stated, the document indicates restitution will be paid in the case.

Farmer is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 15 in Kansas City, Kan., by Judge Carlos Murguia.

Based on the particulars of Farmer’s case and criminal history, sentencing guidelines call for 10 to 16 months in prison, with the possibility of half the time being served on supervised release, according to the motion.

Cowles said there were “substantial reasons” to justify a variance from that.

“The defendant has cooperated completely with federal law enforcement by accepting responsibility for his actions before he was even charged in the case,” Cowles said.

For the past year as his case has pended in court, Farmer has been out of jail and complied with the court’s conditions, his attorney said. Also, despite the nature of his offense, Farmer found and has maintained full-time employment “with the intention of earning income that he can use immediately to start paying on the restitution he will owe in this case.”

The document does not say where Farmer works.

Cowles said Farmer has no criminal record.

“The defendant has absolutely no criminal history of convictions or even arrests, felony, misdemeanor, or juvenile,” Cowles said. “The defendant’s lifetime as (a) law-abiding member of society is a strong factor to consider in fairly sentencing this defendant.”

Farmer was charged in August 2016 and pleaded guilty the following month to interstate transportation of embezzled funds and securities, a felony, according to a plea agreement filed in court.

Farmer admitted to embezzling by fraud more than $5,000 from Just Food from 2013 until he resigned in August 2015, and concealing it by “adjusting” QuickBooks entries and financial statements provided to the Just Food board, according to the plea agreement.

Farmer was hired as executive director of Just Food in 2011. Voters elected Farmer to the Lawrence City Commission in April 2013, and fellow commissioners unanimously voted him to become mayor of Lawrence in April 2015.

Farmer resigned from Just Food on Aug. 10, 2015, and also resigned as the city's mayor days later.

A month later, representatives of the Just Food board alleged that an examination of their financial records showed Farmer made unauthorized payments to himself of more than $52,000 in salary and benefits over a two-year period. The alleged overpayments were in addition to more than $61,000 in federal and state payroll taxes that went unpaid while Farmer served as the executive director, Just Food said.

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Comments

Evan Taylor 2 weeks ago

Not embezzling from a non-profit is really easy--don't take/use money that isn't yours. I hope you enjoy prison, Jeremy.

Brent Atwater 2 weeks ago

I don't care if there was no previous criminal record, Farmer should go to prison and I don't mean one of those "Country Club" prisons for white collar crimes.

Rick Aldrich 2 weeks ago

Prison. But if he doesn't then that's just another example of our corrupt judicial system.

David Holroyd 1 week, 6 days ago

If the churches in Arkansas had filed charges...heard at the swap meet some members of the Lawrence community wrote letters of support for him

Samantha Martin 1 week, 6 days ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Carol Bowen 1 week, 6 days ago

I still do not see a difference between bilking Just Foods (Farmer) and bilking the city (Fritzel) other than the city's case involved quite a bit more money.

Theodore Calvin 1 week, 6 days ago

$$ for top dollar representation and some sort of voodoo control over the commissioners of Lawrence. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice.... How does the saying go on the 9th time with Fritzel and the city?

Richard Heckler 1 week, 5 days ago

Carol......

Exactly what I was sitting here thinking .......

Mike Wasikowski 1 week, 6 days ago

I think serving five months in prison and five months on supervised release from prison is plenty lenient for someone who stole several thousands of dollars from starving community members.

Bob Forer 1 week, 6 days ago

Nobody starves in Lawrence. Without Just Food, some folks would go hungry. But nobody would starve.

Don't get me wrong, Just Food is a great program and helps people tremendously.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 week, 6 days ago

Why do they consider embezzling a lesser crime than accosting someone on the street? Do they think it doesn't threaten people? He threatened a lot of poor people who depended on the food bank. He knew he was busted, so he decided it was better to cooperate, so he wouldn't go to prison. He is not a stupid man, or he wouldn't have been able to fool so many people. He's a manipulator. Give him the same sentence, as if he had walked into a bank and robbed them. And tell him never to come to Lawrence even to visit friends ever again.

David Holroyd 1 week, 6 days ago

He will get leniency, in my opinion, because the very people who put him in the Mayor's position probably wrote letters of support for him.

Quite frankly, the Board members should serve as well , at least do some community service for not being on top of things. It is not as if they are not professional people and dont have an understanding of how things work. eg. a banker, a school teacher , professors, lawyers, and the list goes on.

So now see how it turns out.

It is a shame though that so much time was spent on this if he just gets probation. The sentence could have been settled a long time ago.

btw Who paid his legal fees?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 week, 6 days ago

I reread the article. I don't see anything about letters of support.

Teri Griffin-Guntert 1 week, 6 days ago

For many years there was a team of volunteers who went about the city collecting food from food stores to distribute food needs to the Community Shelter for the homeless. Mr. Farmer came along with his idea of Just Food then went to these same grocers and filled their minds with questions and doubts similar to causing the managements to question if whether we were actually taking this food to the Shelter. Point: he did not truly care about the hungry unless is was all about him and his plans. He needs to be assisted by professionals to heal a deeper problem within.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 week, 6 days ago

Shock time........if you violate the law and steal, you go to jail.....End of story

Bill Turner 1 week, 6 days ago

I don't see any point in actually putting him in prison. He has a felony conviction on his record, which, after having paid restitution is burden enough to bear for a host of reasons. I'm tired of filling jails and prisons with non-violent offenders with a low likelihood of recidivism. He's a useless scum-bag, but imprisoning him at our expense does no good for anyone.

Phil Minkin 1 week, 6 days ago

It's like the kid who kills his parents and the asks for leniency because he's an orphan. Living a normal life should not be considered.

Bob Forer 1 week, 6 days ago

According to information I received from a very reliable source whose name I cannot mention, Farmer was fired from a golf course in Arkansas for allegedly misusing funds. That was the incident that lead to his ex wife filing for divorce, I believe.

So I think this is not the first crime he ever committed a crime. He just happened to have gotten caught this time.

Judy Lewis 1 week, 6 days ago

So Jeremy made a mistake. What about mercy? Why are we name calling? I believe God warns us about that. What about forgiveness? I know a lot of people are quick to point the finger but have forgotten the mistakes and wrong choices they have made or done in a life time. I am not saying there should be no punishment but come on we don't know his life story.

Bob Forer 1 week, 6 days ago

Oh, but I know a lot more about him than most. He has been a con artist for years.

Samantha Martin 1 week, 5 days ago

Bob, remember the good old days when you could post facts and not be censored. Now they just hit the delete button. There are posts from a few years ago that told the story with fact but apparently nobody listened.

Bob Forer 1 week, 5 days ago

Absolutely. If people want to go back to the articles surrounding Farmer's failure to pay taxes and subsequent firing, they will find numerous posts by myself and others who uncovered many misdeeds and lies of Jeremy Farmer. I am a retired prosecutor so I understand there are serious repercussions for wrongfully accusing a person of crimes and and or other bad acts.

This was hardly an isolated case of wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Farmer.

Allan Dalton 1 week, 6 days ago

can't do the time - don't do the crime - (does farmer have any band uniforms for sale?)

Richard Heckler 1 week, 5 days ago

How about the builders and property mangers that don't pay taxes without legal persuasion? Isn't that tax evasion? Isn't tax evasion against the law?

How is it this group never sees a court room and still gets awarded more city/county contracts?

The above group walks away with more dollars than Farmer embezzled. Apparently some crimes are more acceptable than others?

Jail time eh? How many can justify $50,000 tax dollar or more annually to keep Farmer behind bars. The private prison industry is probably more dishonest than Farmer. Yep over billing the taxpayers among other things.

Just Food was a good idea that which now is under responsible management.

With Farmer on parole and working ..... restitution will take place.

Look what Brownback and associates have knowingly done to public education and our economy etc etc etc. Taking kick backs for their less than ethical time in office.

Again:

Just Food was a good idea that which now is under responsible management.

With Farmer on parole and working ..... restitution will take place.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 week, 4 days ago

“Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli has been convicted, but will he serve real time. I'd like to see a convict wipe that smirk from his face. Too bad they can't get him for price gouging too. I'm tired of these "white collar" criminals being treated differently.

Jean Robart 1 week, 4 days ago

Gee, Jeremy, in a perfect world, the person CONVICTED would ALWAYS get the "punishment" he wants. Sorry this world isn't perfect. You did some real damage to a fine organization. Time to "pay the piper."

Richard Heckler 1 week, 4 days ago

I'm not interested in thousands of my tax dollars being shelled out annually to keep Mr Farmer behind bars. I am interested in restitution being made to Just Food and that this process is enforced. How about house arrest with work release privileges?

"Look what Brownback and associates have knowingly done to public education and our economy etc etc etc. Taking kick backs for their less than ethical time in office.

Look at the Kobach behavior when asked to testify under oath and making up crap about voter fraud? And his wandering about the USA on our tax dollar.

How is it these people can remain employed with a tax dollar supported pay check? Shouldn't these types of employees be subjected to termination without a rather expensive process as most employees?

David Holroyd 1 week, 2 days ago

Richard, you are full of bunk! Thousands of your tax dollars? Really now! THOUSANDS?

Were you one who maybe wrote a letter to go easy on Mr.Farmer?

Richard, the amount you pay in state tax dollars wouldn;t even begin to be enough to even pay for lodging for one prisoner.

Not only should Mr.Farmer get a sentence the members of the Board are equally responsible and should come forward and admit that they let the Just Food operation be swindled.

GUIILTY....BOARD MEMBERS ( i would put the names but the post would be deleated) GUILIT.....Mr. Farmer

Michael Kort 1 week, 2 days ago

Today I am thankful that there are sentencing guidelines, judges, etc because if it were up to me I might not be very merciful towards mr farmer .

I understand that society needs to get mr farmers attention so that he won't do a repeat elsewhere and I think that financial restitution to Just Foods should be made to occur .

I have seen persuasive individuals manipulate and bulldoze boards before but not in a criminal way such as farmers way to steal ( just people doing unrealistic crazy stuff that made no sense ) .

I don't know what went on between farmer and the JF board but It serves to remind us that being on a board is a real financial responsibility that requires reasonable financial controls and proceedures that guarantee honest behaviors from people (?) with hidden criminal intentions .

It doesn't hurt to be a little distrusting where non profit money is conserned and if that hurts someone feelings then maybe employment or volunteering elsewhere should be their option in life to take .

David Holroyd 1 week, 1 day ago

Financial restitution won't stop Mr. Farmer. Some prison time would. If even a week.

And the Just Food Board should be ashamed of themselves and everyone that was on it when Mr. Farmer was in charge of Just Foods is just as accountable.

But who wants to lock up a teacher, a banker ( and no less than the banker that had the Just Foods bank account) and professors. All professional people ...titled at least.....but not VERY PROFESSIONAL!

Samantha Martin 2 days, 11 hours ago

Language from: Case 5:16-cr-40072-CM

"The factors identified as warranting a variance have already been taken into account in reducing his guideline range and allowing him to remain free. The fact he has agreed to restitution should not receive recognition because restitution is mandatory in this case. Presentence Investigation Report (PSIR), ¶ 18. He received a reduction for acceptance of responsibility. He does not face any enhanced sentencing because the guidelines recognize no criminal history."

"Moreover, he received substantial benefit by not having the stigma of being indicted. That he was a public figure, the mayor of Lawrence at the time he committed his crime, coupled with the fact that his crime was committed against a charitable institution warrants a sentence of imprisonment. A sentence of no incarceration would fail to take into account punishment and deterrence. The government recommends, as it agreed to do, a sentence of 10 months in prison, no fine and restitution in the amount of $81,446.57. "

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