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Local Politics

Ex-Easley aide headed to federal prison

Posted July 26, 2011

— A top aide to former Gov. Mike Easley got one more day of freedom Tuesday before heading to a Florida prison Tuesday to begin serving his year-and-a-day sentence for federal income tax evasion.

Ruffin Poole, 39, was supposed to report to prison earlier this month, but authorities moved his reporting date after the U.S. Bureau of Prisons changed his assignment from Bennettsville, S.C., to Pensacola, Fla.

His plane encountered mechanical difficulties, so he missed his connecting flight in Charlotte and was given until Wednesday to report to prison, authorities said.

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.

Meanwhile, the State Board of Elections last week certified that Easley's campaign organization is officially closed.

The final campaign finance report for the Mike Easley Committee shows $210,884 in debt, including $94,000 owed to the elections board to pay off a 2009 fine for campaign finance violations. Another $116,000 is owed to two law firms.

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  • same ole story Jul 27, 10:24 a.m.

    The boys in the joint are going to like this little man. guess he will get his "wake up call" when thery trade him for a pack of smokes.....

  • The Fox Jul 27, 10:14 a.m.

    ["Little Warden"] More like "Little Lady."

  • ORMA Jul 26, 6:00 p.m.

    So the little man goes to federal prison for tax evasion. Wasn't Obama's pick for Secretary of the Treasury found to have failed to pay his taxes too? I wonder why he wasn't jailed? When is Edwards going to go to prison too?

  • westernwake1 Jul 26, 5:34 p.m.

    This begs the question of when Easley will join him.

  • harmstrong4 Jul 26, 5:12 p.m.

    whonder where Easley is working since the wife lost her plush job.....lol.

  • WRALSPORTSFANSUXS Jul 26, 4:48 p.m.

    What political party was he with?

  • cantstandya Jul 26, 3:52 p.m.

    Hope it was one of those bags fly free flights if not we will be paying for the extra bags,golf clubs,and tennis gear,7 months he will be out.

  • mep Jul 26, 3:18 p.m.

    "Haggis basher is not even a citizen of the U.S. never mind being from NC .That being said does it really matter what he says about what goes on here in NC or the USA ?????"

    ...about the same at what you say matters, actually...that's kinda the way internet forums work. forautumn

    Not quite... a persons nationality, race and other attributes can take away from a posters credibility, and can illuminate certain bias. It can be like a blind person posting about what colors to paint your house with....

  • readerman Jul 26, 2:15 p.m.

    If they shut down the government on Tuesday, he won't have to go:)

  • venitapeyton Jul 26, 12:51 p.m.

    Funny how the Easleys seem to have disappeared. With passports untouched, perhaps they're working in a foreign country???

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