State News

Judge sets April trial for former Easley aide

Posted February 10, 2010

— A federal judge on Wednesday set an April trial date for an ex-aide to former Gov. Mike Easley on 51 corruption-related charges.

Saying it was in the best interest of both sides to bring the case against Ruffin Poole to a speedy conclusion, U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle said the trial would begin April 26.

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

Boyle said he's open to moving the date back if either the prosecutors or Poole's attorneys can demonstrate that they cannot be prepared for trial by then.

Prosecutors previously suggested a trial begin on May 17, but Poole's lawyer, Joe Zeszotarski, asked the trial not start before Aug. 9, noting there's potentially thousands of pages of e-mail evidence from the government that he needs to review.

A federal grand jury last month indicted Poole on charges of extortion, bribery, racketeering, money laundering and mail fraud.

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.

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  • tatermommy52 Feb 11, 2010

    If Easley is being investigated and his top aid indicted how does Lt Gov Perdue and Att. General Roy Cooper escape scrutiny if they were in the so called governors cabinet. It seems that the Att General looked the other way and the Lt. Governor should have kown that un-ethical conduct was placing the state government in jeopardy. They both took oaths to uphold and defend the constitution.

  • jrfergerson Feb 11, 2010

    why do these lawyers want to put off the trial, so the rest of the cronies will have time to get their assets right before they are revealed as being participants in this mess. Mikey and Mrs mickey they are closing in on ya.

  • Doctor Dataclerk Feb 10, 2010

    Welcome to the Rocket Docket of the Federal court system. This Judge is not going to let a bunch of slick lawyers delay this until August saying the evidence is to bulky to look through. It's a pretty open and shut case and the "Little Governor" had better open his mouth and close the case on the Big Governor to shave a few years off of his sentence.

  • Vietnam Vet Feb 10, 2010

    Just another public servant. Here's the definition of politician...really an eye opener!!

    –noun 1. a person who is active in party politics.
    2. a seeker or holder of public office, who is more concerned about winning favor or retaining power than about maintaining principles.
    3. a person who holds a political office.
    4. a person skilled in political government or administration; statesman or stateswoman.
    5. an expert in politics or political government.
    6. a person who seeks to gain power or advancement within an organization in ways that are generally disapproved.
    Enough said????

  • Womble_Fred Feb 10, 2010

    He's singing. And they are moving the trial up because he is very likely pushing for a plea bargain. Still, ole boy needs to serve time for his crimes and IF he helps bring down Mike and Mary, we'll talk about reducing 15 years or so to about 8. But until Easley is behind bars, Ruffin should serve the maximum if convicted. He is a white collar crook and those criminals steal more than petty thieves. And Perdue is obviously knee deep in all this but will probably manage to evade prosecution.

  • 5-113 FA Retired Feb 10, 2010

    I'm wondering if the Easley's actually have enough cash on hand to buy their way out of this one? I would definately not take a check from either of them.

    If not, Poole's gonna sing like a neutered canary.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Feb 10, 2010

    Easley's aide will roll over on Easley to avoid a jail sentence.

    It's only a matter of time before Mike and Mary change their mailing addresses to the Federal Prison.

  • Retired07 Feb 10, 2010

    GO AFTER MIKE AND MARY. Dont play with the little crooks.

  • cwood3 Feb 10, 2010

    Clink, clink, clink, clink, the jail door went clink, clink, clink. you're goin to jail pal-after you sing like a canary.
    He will finish off Mike and Mary Sleazley.

    Hopefully, other politicians will learn that selling out the people for personal profit is a felony, and YOU WILL GO TO JAIL FOR THAT OFFENSE!!

  • Garnerwolf1 Feb 10, 2010

    The prosecutor is a politician also. He shook hands with this guy the last time they were in court, which almost never happens. If Mary had shut up and resigned, all of this would have gone away. Frankly, it doesn't appear that Easley has done anything differently than every other politician has ever done.

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