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Sep 21, 2012 9:36 PM

Ag Boss Comer Says FBI Investigating Farmer's Term

FRANKFORT. (AP) - Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says he's been notified that the FBI is investigating the administration of his predecessor, Richie Farmer.

Comer told The Courier-Journal that his office was notified late last week by Attorney General Jack Conway's staff but wasn't told what aspects of Farmer's 2004-2011 tenure are under investigation.

"They said that the FBI would be contacting some of our employees" who remain from Farmer's years as commissioner, Comer said.

"They told us this because these workers would obviously have to leave work early ... and these meetings could last several hours," Comer said.

An April 30 audit by state Auditor Adam Edelen criticized Farmer's administration, alleging a series of improprieties. The audit has been under review by the attorney general's office and the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.

Neither the attorney general's office nor the FBI would comment on whether the FBI is investigating.

Farmer's lawyer, Guthrie True of Frankfort, said he didn't know of any FBI interest in his client.

"I've always said I didn't see anything in the audit that I thought would really get the interest of any investigative authority," True said. "And I'm certainly not aware of anything in there that would be of interest to the FBI."

On Friday, Farmer's request to have his child support payments reduced was rejected after a judge found he is "voluntarily underemployed."

Franklin County Judge Squire Williams declined to lower the $1,227-a-month payments Farmer must pay for three sons but said the former University of Kentucky basketball star won't have to pay the money for two months while he recovers from surgery.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Williams said he couldn't conclude that Farmer has been diligent about finding regular work since January.

Farmer had asked that the payments be reduced because of hip replacement surgery and because they were based on his $110,000 annual salary. Farmer's term ended in December, and he ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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