Local Politics

Ex-Easley aide to serve time in Florida

Posted July 14, 2011

— A top aide to former Gov. Mike Easley will serve his sentence for federal income tax evasion in a prison in Pensacola, Fla.

Ruffin Poole, 39, was supposed to report to prison Friday, but authorities moved his reporting date back to July 26 after the U.S. Bureau of Prisons changed his assignment from Bennettsville, S.C., to Pensacola.

Poole pleaded guilty last year to tax evasion, shortly before he was scheduled to go to trial on 57 public corruption-related charges, including extortion, bribery and money laundering.

The charge stemmed from $30,000 Poole made on a coastal investment and didn't report in 2005. It was uncovered during a two-year federal investigation into Easley's dealings with friends and contributors while in office.

Federal authorities alleged 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 showered Poole with gifts. He 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 federal indictments.

Wilmington developer Lanny Wilson allowed Poole to invest in the Cannonsgate development in Carteret County in 2005, and in an attempt to curry favor for permits and an appointment to a state board, Wilson quickly turned a $30,000 profit for Poole, prosecutors said.

Easley and his wife later purchased a waterfront lot in Cannonsgate at a below-market rate.

Poole was sentenced in May to 12 months and one day in prison and ordered to pay a $30,000 fine. He already has paid $16,629 in back taxes with penalties, authorities said.

Easley entered an Alford plea in state court in November to a felony charge of certifying a false campaign report in 2006. An Alford plea allows a defendant to plead guilty, while maintaining his innocence, because there is sufficient evidence to find him guilty.

Easley was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, but he avoided any prison or probation time.

8 Comments

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  • DavidJonathan Jul 15, 2011

    When NC desperately needed leadership and vision, we got 8 years of Gov. Easley's Administration. Now we are all paying the price. Please, voters, look closely at your state and local candidates and don't just vote for the Party, look at the person.

  • Inter Alios Jul 15, 2011

    I've visited the minimum security Federal "prison" near Pensacola FL. They have a golf course, tennis courts, pools, a clubhouse and a whole lot of other stuff that the inmates get to maintain... then use after the club closes for the day. REAL tough place to serve time.... ha.
    mep
    GOLO member since January 23, 2008

    Would you be willing to take a year out of your life and serve time there, away from friends and family, so you can use the golf course, tennis courts, pool and club house after hours? Doing time is doing time wherever you do it.

  • ifcdirector Jul 15, 2011

    Gov. Mike Easley will be serving his time in his beach house which was illegally obtained by him while in office. No he won't have an ankle bracelet. Yes all of the same democrats who put someone of his ilk would also vote tomorrow to put him back into office if they could. Gov. Mike Easley will be waiting patiently for Bev "The Joker" Perdue to send over his pardon and has sent a letter of appreciation to all of the democrat trial lawyers who lined up from Charlotte to Raleigh to pay his $1,000 fine for him. Gov. Mike Easley thanks you the democrats of NC for making his crime spree possible as well as your blind devotion to a cause that generates so much criminality that it's off the scale. See you next election.

  • gman007 Jul 15, 2011

    "An Alford plea allows a defendant to plead guilty, while maintaining his innocence, because there is sufficient evidence to find him guilty."

    I guess the prosecutor was a democrat, otherwise, if indeed there was enough evidence to convict, the plea would not have been accepted.

  • vernonhill Jul 15, 2011

    If poole had "Told All He Knew" maybe Easley and others would have been locked up, however he choose not to talk. You can bet that he will be rewarded when he gets out for being quiet.

  • Objective Scientist Jul 14, 2011

    This guy deserves the punishment he is getting, more likely he deserves more than what he is getting. He committed one or more crimes as the "little governor", but his crimes as "little governor" pales in comparison to the crime of the "Big Governor" getting off, for all practical purpose, "Scot free"!!! The "little" guy gets it, while the "big" guy does not!!! During his campaign and very early in his tenure I felt that Easley could possibly be a "good Governor" for NC. That did not last long... sure he accomplished some good things, but his leadership "style" was not what I want to see in an elected official nor do I suspect anyone wishes to see. Easley seemed to think he could keep everything he did "under wraps". That fits well with neither the American constitution nor personal constitution.

  • mep Jul 14, 2011

    I've visited the minimum security Federal "prison" near Pensacola FL. They have a golf course, tennis courts, pools, a clubhouse and a whole lot of other stuff that the inmates get to maintain... then use after the club closes for the day. REAL tough place to serve time.... ha.

  • cwood3 Jul 14, 2011

    Another crooked Democrat!!! Does anybody but me see a pattern here??? Just wondering??