FRANKFORT — A woman linked with former state Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer has been found guilty of an ethics code violation for falsifying timesheets.
The state Executive Branch Ethics Commission on Friday ordered Stephanie Hiser to pay a $5,000 fine — the maximum under state law. The commission accepted a hearing officer's findings that Hiser did little work in her job at the state Department of Agriculture.
Hiser can appeal the ruling. Her attorney, Theodore Shouse, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Hiser was Farmer's girlfriend when he hired her as a staff assistant. She held the $5,000-per-month job from Oct. 31, 2011, until the start of 2012, when she was fired by James Comer after he took office as state agriculture commissioner. Hiser's name was Stephanie Sandmann at the time.
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Farmer, a former University of Kentucky basketball star, was sentenced to 27 months in prison for misusing state resources during his tenure as Kentucky's agriculture commissioner.
Farmer, a guard for the 1991-92 UK team dubbed "The Unforgettables" for their gutsy play, pleaded guilty in September 2013 to two counts of misappropriating government resources while overseeing the agriculture department. Farmer, a Republican, was agriculture commissioner from 2004 to 2011.
In April 2013, Farmer was charged by a federal grand jury with four counts of misappropriating money and property and one count of soliciting property in exchange for a state grant.
Prosecutors alleged that Farmer had created political jobs for close friends who performed little or no work. Those employees allegedly ran personal errands for Farmer, including building a basketball court at his home in Frankfort and chauffeuring his dog, while being paid by the state.
The indictment alleged that Farmer took a variety of state property, including electronic equipment, guns, knives, refrigerators and filing cabinets.
Farmer also faced a 42-count charge brought by the Executive Branch Ethics Commission. Those charges included misuse of state employees, misuse of state resources, improper use of grants and improper use of Kentucky Proud marketing funds.
The commission found Farmer and eight others in his administration guilty of violating state ethics rules.