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Chief Deputy Tom Farmer resigns

By Jonathan Austin
Yancey County News

Disgraced Yancey County Chief Deputy Thomas Lloyd Farmer resigned his post effective Tuesday after the Yancey County News exposed how he took county owned, sheriff’s department issue firearms and pawned them for personal gain.
In a statement provided to this newspaper by County Attorney Donny Laws, Sheriff Gary Banks said that Farmer admitted that he “on occasions did pawn service weapons issued to him.”
Asked how many guns were pawned, County Manager Nathan Bennett said he didn’t know. The newspaper only verified one pawning event, though Banks’ statement suggests Farmer pawned more.
The Yancey  County News had documented that Farmer pawned two county-owned pistols at Alan’s Jewelry and Pawn in Asheville on January 22, and that he pawned two Glock firearms in 2009. Banks said the Glock pistols did not belong to the department, and that Farmer “has returned Yancey County property and equipment assigned to him and it is in the custody of Sheriff Banks.”
In his statement, Banks said Farmer apologized. Banks said nothing about arresting Farmer, despite the fact that the man had taken the firearms with the intent to pawn them for personal gain.
The guns were returned to the department only after this newspaper began asking questions about why they were in the pawn shop.
The sheriff said he has turned the results of his internal investigation over to District Attorney Jerry Wilson.
In a letter requesting an investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation, the county manager said the county intended to prosecute Farmer if the allegations that he had pawned the guns proved true.
Now that the sheriff says Farmer confessed, county leaders could take out warrants on their own for the arrest of the ex-lawman, or five residents could appeal to the county attorney for a formal trial.

March 24 editorial on Farmer's resignation

State Bureau was never asked to investigate Tom Farmer