Ex-aide to former governor pleads not guilty

Former attorney for Gov. Mike Easley, Ruffin Poole arrives at a N.C. State Board of Elections hearing in downtown Raleigh on Monday, Oct. 26, 2009. (Chris Seward)
April 5, 2010 3:36:20 PM PDT
Ruffin Poole faced a judge Monday. The judge asked Poole to enter his plea for each of the 57 felony counts he's facing and, as was expected, Poole responded not guilty each time.The 38-year-old served as a personal assistant and special counsel to Easley. Poole is accused of participating in an elaborate pay-to-play scheme, in which a real estate developer would give him lavish gifts and secret investments, in order to make sure various permitting issues were resolved.

Poole was originally indicted in January after federal grand jurors met for most of 2009 on activities surrounding Easley and his associates. Easley has not been charged with any crimes.

Last month, federal authorities added six charges to the original indictment against Poole, including three for income tax evasion.

Then last week, Poole's legal team asked for some of the 57 counts to be thrown out, but the judge refused.

They also continue to ask the judge to delay the start of the trial by a few months, saying it will be impossible for them to review more than 50,000 pages of discovery, as well as secure a CPA to assist in the tax charges before April 26.

So as it stands, the trial will start in three weeks. The judge is considering delaying it by a few weeks, but he has yet to make a final decision.

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