Ex Easley aide charged with tax evasion

RALEIGH The charges came down during what was supposed to be Ruffin Poole's arraignment Thursday.

Poole was expected to enter a plea for each one of the original 51 federal charges he's facing, but instead he's facing six additional federal charges - three for using the internet and e-mail in aid of racketeering and three for income tax evasion.

"This is probably causing Mr. Poole and his attorney to have very additional, serious conversations," Former Federal Prosecutor Dan Boyce said.

Boyce says the racketeering charges are more in line with the original 51-count indictment filed against Poole in January.

The 38-year-old served as a personal assistant and special counselor to former governor Mike Easley.

Poole is accused of participating in a pay-to-play scheme, in which a real estate developer would give him lavish gifts and secret investments in order to ensure various permitting issues were resolved.

The new tax charges filed Thursday alleges Poole substantially under-reported his household's taxable income from 2005 to 2007. Boyce says this opens up a new window of opportunity for federal prosecutors.

"It gives the government an alternate theory to present to the jury," Boyce said.

The defense has filed a motion to dismiss every single charge of the original indictment.

"It means they're going to war," Boyce said.

An unusual move, Boyce says, could have pointed out some flaws in the prosecution's case - one reason why prosecutors might have felt the need to file the new charges.

"It may be that they're piling on," Boyce said. "It may be they're frustrated that he hadn't agreed to cooperate, that they want him to testify against other people and they're using this as additional leverage to try and get him to fold and cooperate and become part of the government team."

Poole's attorney did not return ABC11 Eyewitnes News' calls Thursday.

The trial date is still scheduled for late April and it's unclear if the new charges will change that.

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