Agriculture Department Missing $500,000 of State Property

by Devin Katayama on January 13, 2012

With reporting from the Associated Press

Nearly $500,000 worth of state property from Kentucky’s Department of Agriculture is unaccounted for, including a lengthy list of electronics.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer questioned the department’s practices after meeting with certain employees during his transition, said department spokeswoman Holly Von Luehrte.

Earlier this week Comer asked state auditor Adam Edelen to thoroughly review the department’s finances, but the department’s poor record keeping could make it difficult to recover all the lost items.

Von Luehrte said the department has turned over what documents were on hand, but around $150,000 worth of equipment that was supposed to be returned to the state’s finance department lack proper identification.

“We’re trying to locate some of that, but again, transition is a process and we’re working hard. But we just hope all of you all will be patient with us. We’re trying to ascertain this information and turn it over to the auditor as quickly as possible,” she said.

That may be difficult. It’s still uncertain whether the search includes items prior to former commissioner Richie Farmer’s term, but the current inventory records obtained by the Lexington Herald-Leader show Farmer is the only individual who hasn’t returned all state-owned property.

Edelen said the records will be considered as part of a larger investigation involving the agriculture department.

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