Local Politics

Ex-Easley aide faces more charges

Posted March 18, 2010

— Federal officials on Thursday charged Ruffin Poole, a top aide to former Gov. Mike Easley, with tax evasion and other offenses.

The charges were in a superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury that has been investigating for more than a year Easley's dealings with friends and contributors while in office.

The grand jury indicted Poole in January on 51 corruption charges, including extortion, bribery and money laundering. The new charges prompted the cancellation of an arraignment that has been scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Poole, 38, was Easley's legal counsel and trusted adviser during the governor's two terms in office.

The new indictment alleges that he failed to report some income earned during 2005, 2006 and 2007. He also was charged with three counts of using facilities in interstate commerce in the aid of racketeering, charges that stem from using e-mails to discuss using his influence in exchange for monetary benefit.

The original indictment noted 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.

Poole's lawyer, Joe Zeszotarski, on Tuesday filed motions to dismiss all charges.

U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle has set an April 26 trial, but Zeszotarski has requested that it be pushed back to August because of the amount of evidence he needs to review to prepare a defense.

Zeszotarski said Thursday that the tax evasion charges will only add to the need for a delay, noting that he won't be able to retain a CPA to study the evidence in the case until after April 15.

Boyle said he won't rule on the issue of delaying the trial until after federal prosecutors respond to the defense motion to dismiss all charges.

26 Comments

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  • Doctor Dataclerk Mar 19, 2010

    There aren't enough hours in the day to investigate and prosecute the current and former political thugs in North Carolina.

  • VT1994Hokie Mar 18, 2010

    He is a cocky and smug person. I hope he goes all the way down. Easley may be the next. I hope that all taxpayers pay close attention to these these proceedings and remember how to vote next time. Obama my go down too. I pray for this one.

  • 3779LRRP Mar 18, 2010

    I'm waiting for Mr. Poole's book to come out. Betcha it does.

  • wbearp Mar 18, 2010

    Load him up that way he'll roll over on others! I'm sure his family is proud.

  • imtiredofit Mar 18, 2010

    Looks like Mike will have his go to guy aka his right hand man in the cell next to him......

  • countess Mar 18, 2010

    wonder who will pay for the divorce.....??????

  • time4real Mar 18, 2010

    more charges? say it ain't so.

  • Ladybug Mar 18, 2010

    I hope all involved go down for these crimes, even back to Carteret County, permits, Environmental Devel., Coastal Area Mgmt (CAMA) and all others on up the ladder. Easley needs to be made accountable and if there are more in State Gov't, then they need to be punished as well.

  • Andiecat Mar 18, 2010

    No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power. It is said that power corrupts, but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible.

  • kodac31 Mar 18, 2010

    Hey Mike Easley...Your next!

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