Local Politics

Easley's ex-aide led into courthouse in handcuffs

Posted January 28, 2010
Updated January 31, 2010

— Federal agents led a longtime aide to former Democratic Gov. Mike Easley into the federal courthouse in Raleigh Thursday morning, a week after a grand jury indicted him on 51 corruption-related charges.

Ruffin Poole, who was Easley's legal counsel and trusted adviser during the governor's two terms in office, was handcuffed as he entered the courthouse.

Easley aide faces federal charges Easley aide faces federal charges

"It's demoralizing. It's humiliating. Probably the reality of it is never more clear than when you're standing in front of a federal judge," Kieran Shanahan, a Raleigh attorney and former federal prosecutor, said of Poole's appearance in federal court.

After making a brief appearance before U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle, Poole surrendered his passport and was released on a $50,000 unsecured bond.

He declined to comment as he left the courthouse with his attorney, Joe Zeszotarski.

Poole, who turned 38 this week, is charged in a 64-page indictment with extortion, bribery, racketeering, mail fraud and money laundering.

The grand jury has in recent months been investigating Easley's dealings with friends and contributors while in office, but Easley wasn't named in the indictment.

The indictment notes that Poole became known among Easley's top contributors as "Little Governor" because he was the person tasked with resolving any problems donors faced with state regulators and with lining up appointments for them to serve on state boards and commissions.

In exchange for his work, the donors gave Poole gifts like free concert tickets and trips, according to the indictment. One paid for Poole's bachelor party in New Orleans, and another bought $600 in liquor for his wedding.

Poole also was allowed to invest in coastal real estate developments at the same time as he was working to secure permits for those projects from state regulators, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges Poole never reported any of the gifts on his annual financial disclosure forms to the state Ethics Commission and used his family's construction firm to handle money he received through the real estate investments.

Noting the low bond given to Poole and his handshake with Assistant U.S. Attorney John Bruce as he left the courtroom, Shanahan said it's clear that federal investigators hope to work closely with Poole to build a case against Easley.

"Ruffin Poole would certainly be a blow to any defense Easley might try and put on," Shanahan said.


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  • Carolinagirl38 Jan 28, 2010

    Mr. Middle of the Road – What you are saying is the most reasonable and human thing I’ve EVER seen posted on this board - and for that you should be proud. This board went “Lord of the Flies” a long time ago. It’s so easy to criticize others, but I am doubtful to believe that there is even one person on here that has never committed wrongdoing, never been dishonest, or never had a family member or a loved one that has been guilty the same. Good people break rules every day – whether it be speeding on your way to work or logging onto these blogs and comment boards on company or state time to pass judgment on another. Would I wish for each of you to be punished by the severest penalty of losing your jobs? No. I wouldn’t think you or your family should suffer so greatly for that. In everyone’s fantasy to see the absolute worst happen to this young man, you all have lost your own decency. Middle of the Road is right and you all should be ashamed. The law can judge

  • teacher-mom Jan 28, 2010

    For those who are still hiding their heads, corruption is in every level of government. Corruption is everywhere.

  • teacher-mom Jan 28, 2010

    He was just doing what the big boss told him to do. Why doesn't he lose his license to practice law? They are all crooks. He was probably being groomed to be the next big boss.

  • lkanzig Jan 28, 2010

    when is mike and mary's turn?
    i give bev 3 more years before she needs the same!

  • ladyblue Jan 28, 2010

    One down and plenty more to go. We can start with Easley and his wife, and I'm sure quite a few senators who are sitting there grinning like they are eating cheese.............I would love to see Easley grind a few stones in the pokey as he was shafting this state since stealing the FEMA money when he first came into office for his own needs.

  • agmurphy1976 Jan 28, 2010

    I agree with you rlwieland. You wouldn't think you'd have to explain why the people of this state are up in arms over this situation. Go figure.

  • agmurphy1976 Jan 28, 2010

    I have no sadistic desires for what happens to him once he's in prison. But after a man sits up in our government, spends all of his time taking care of his buddies and getting kickbacks, all on our tax dollars do you really have to ask what he did to me. I didn't work all this week to watch a 1/3 of my paycheck go to the government so people like him could live high on the hog. You are seriously crooked when the Feds hit you with 51 indictments. The Federal government doesn't show up until there ready to nail you to the cross. Theirs no evidence on the face of the Earth thats going to clear him. He's guilty. The only thing he can do now is roll over and try to save his on behind. If he goes to jail for the rest of his life than so be it, maybe it will deter the next Ruffin Poole. And I hope he takes Mike, Mary and Bev with him. I've run out of patience for corrupt government, its time heads started to roll. You can have pity for him if you want, I don't.

  • Tarheelfan13 Jan 28, 2010

    james27613, those guys escorting him are not your average local Basic Law Enforcement training course trained local law enforcement officer but are United States Marshalls who are highly trained and skilled. I am more than confident that they would know how to diffuse and combat a situation easily.

  • james27613 Jan 28, 2010

    Will they let Easley and his wife share a cell?

  • Tarheelfan13 Jan 28, 2010

    rlwieland, I understand how bad corruption is and can be. And it is a shame that the corruption is so bad in certain instances of North Carolina state government that the Federal government is having to step in and finally address and correct the corruption in North Carolina state government because the state of North Carolina appears to want to turn a blind eye to it to use an old expression. This state has become sort of like the Illinois of the South with so many corruption scandals. It seems that the Federal government is putting an end to the good old boy politics in North Carolina.