Caught stealing thousands of dollars from a food bank in Kansas, a former mayor pleaded guilty this week to one count of interstate transportation of stolen funds. Although the food bank was created to fight hunger and malnourishment, the former mayor of Lawrence has been accused of stealing more than $50,000 from the charitable organization.
Hired in 2011, Jeremy Farmer served as the executive director at Just Food, a food bank in Douglas County that provides people with frozen meat and fresh produce as well as bread and food donated from community drives according to its website. In 2013, Farmer began embezzling thousands of dollars from the food bank by accessing Just Food’s bank accounts.
Two days after Farmer resigned from his position as executive director of Just Food in August 2015, he also resigned as mayor of Lawrence. Farmer stepped down as both the executive director and member of the City Commission after records disclosed that he had failed to pay over $50,000 in state and federal payroll taxes on behalf of the food bank.
“If I didn’t have Just Food, I wouldn’t eat the last two weeks of the month,” Just Food client Jennifer Coffman told the Lawrence Journal-World. “He took food out of people’s mouths. People who need it. People who would starve without it.”
Despite the fact that Farmer had initially pleaded not guilty on September 8, the former mayor pleaded guilty to one count of interstate transportation of stolen funds in federal court on Wednesday. Facing up to 10 years in prison, Farmer could also be fined up to $250,000 at his sentencing.
According to Executive Director Elizabeth Keever, Just Food currently serves between 150 and 200 families. Instead of expecting restitution from Farmer, the food bank’s board of directors continues to give thanks to the growing support from the community in reducing hunger.
Although the corrupt former mayor only admitted to stealing more than $5,000 from Just Foods’ bank accounts, estimates from the food bank place the actual number near $55,000 in stolen funds.