Ruffin Poole arrives at courthouse in cuffs


He faces bribery, extortion and money laundering charges.

Thursday afternoon, Poole went before U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle. He bowed his head and closed his eyes at times as Boyle summarized the indictment against him.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Bruce told the judge that he and Poole's lawyers had reached a bail agreement. Poole was set free on $50,000 unsecured bond. He must report to a federal probation officer, surrender his passport, and he can't travel outside the North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C. area.

When Judge Boyle asked Poole if he agreed to abide by the terms of his release, Poole replied "Yes sir."

After the judge ended the hearing, Bruce surprised some court watchers by walking over to shake Poole's hand. Some speculated that may mean Poole is cooperating with the investigation of former Governor Easley.

Last fall during a North Carolina State Board of Election hearing into alleged fundraising violations by the Easley campaign, Poole exercised his right to remain silent -- choosing not to answer questions. Last week, he was indicted on 51 counts of corruption.

A lawyer, Poole was a senior aid and special counsel during Easley's two terms as governor.

In an interview with ABC11, government watchdog Joe Sinsheimer described the 64-page indictment against Poole as staggering. There are allegations that Poole accepted trips, booze and other gifts from those he helped with government-related issues.

"If there was any doubt before today that North Carolina state government was for sale, it was put to rest with this indictment," Sinsheimer said last week.

Sinsheimer says Poole isn't the only one who should be worried.

"It looks like they have focused on a set of developers and campaign donors that Mike Easley was also accepting goodies from, and he has to see the handwriting on the wall tonight," Sinsheimer said.

Easley was not named in the indictment against Poole. He said in a statement after Poole's indictment that he had no knowledge of wrongdoing.

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