Former Lawrence mayor sent to prison for stealing from food bank

Jeremy Farmer
Jeremy Farmer

A former mayor of Lawrence was sentenced Tuesday to 10 months in prison for embezzling from a food bank where he once served as executive director.

Jeremy James Farmer also was ordered to pay $81,000 in restitution.

Farmer, 33, pleaded guilty last September in U.S. District Court to interstate transportation of stolen money.

Farmer served as executive director of Just Food from 2011 until he resigned in August 2015. Just Food serves more than 40 other social service agencies in Douglas County.

He began the embezzlement in 2013 and falsified the food bank’s financial records to conceal the thefts from its board of directors, according to court documents.

He was elected mayor in 2013 but resigned that position in August 2015.

Farmer’s lawyer, John Cowles, asked the judge to place Farmer on probation.

Cowles noted his cooperation with authorities in the investigation and his lack of a criminal record.

Farmer told the judge Tuesday that he was “deeply sorry” for his “irresponsible, reckless and selfish behavior.”

“I feel terrible and I do every day for my behavior,” he said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hathaway requested the 10-month sentence, saying it was a case that “cries out” for punishment.

He noted that Just Food feeds 150 to 200 families every day and because of Farmer’s embezzlement, “it almost went under.”

District Judge Carlos Murguia told Farmer that he believed he was sincere in his remorse, but said that the money he took was for his own personal benefit, and the prison sentence was “reasonable and appropriate.”

He allowed Farmer to remain free on bond Tuesday and ordered him to surrender himself when contacted by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Tony Rizzo: 816-234-4435, @trizzkc