FRANKFORT — Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, who faces a foreclosure lawsuit on a mortgage loan of more than $300,000, is trying to sell his Frankfort house.
A "for sale by owner" sign is in the front yard of the Farmer house, off U.S. 127 North at 113 Cedar Ridge.
No one returned messages when calls were made Wednesday to a phone number on the sign. Records show that the number is assigned to a mobile phone in Manchester, Farmer's hometown.
The house, built in 2004, is assessed at $230,000, said the Franklin County property valuation administrator's office.
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First National Bank of Manchester filed a foreclosure suit last month in Franklin Circuit Court against Farmer and his wife, Rebecca Farmer. She filed for divorce in April 2011.
The divorce case has not been finalized, but Rebecca Farmer's attorney, Brian Logan, told The Courier-Journal last month that Richie Farmer has agreed to be responsible for making the mortgage payments.
Neither Logan nor Richie Farmer's attorney in the divorce, Richard M. Guarnieri, was available for comment Wednesday.
The Clay County bank says that no mortgage payments have been made on the Farmer property since at least January.
The foreclosure suit says the Farmers borrowed $321,561 from the bank in October 2004.
In April 2010, the Farmers signed a promissory note with the bank for $307,192 at 5.75 percent interest. The loan was to be repaid in monthly payments through April 2017, followed by a balloon payment — a large, lump-sum payment scheduled at the end of a series of smaller periodic payments.
The suit said the loan is secured with additional collateral that includes real estate in Clay County.
If the sale of the house does not bring enough money to satisfy the debt with the bank, a court order should be entered against the Farmers for unpaid amounts, the suit says.
Charlie Jones, master commissioner for Franklin Circuit Court, said the bank's lawsuit "has not yet made it to my desk."
"It's not unusual for defendants in a foreclosure suit to try to sell their property on their own before the master commissioner has to sell it at a foreclosure sale," he said.
The state attorney general's office and state ethics commission are reviewing a scathing state audit issued last month about Farmer's eight years as state agriculture commissioner.
The former University of Kentucky basketball star, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2011 on a ticket with Republican Senate President David Williams, allegedly misused state workers and resources for personal gain.
Frankfort attorney Guthrie True, who represents Farmer on the audit, has said the audit was politically motivated.