Ex-Easley aide to report to jail


Ruffin Poole, 39, will serve a year and one day in a federal prison in Pensacola, Florida for income tax evasion. He must pay a $100 assessment and a $30,000 fine. Restitution for more than $16 thousand in unpaid taxes has already been paid.

Poole was to report to prison Tuesday, but that was put off by one day when his flight was cancelled.

When he gets out of prison, Poole must serve two more years of supervised release.

Poole served as a personal assistant and special counsel to Easley. Poole was 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 pleaded guilty last year to failing to report a hefty profit on coastal property. The omission was uncovered during a federal probe involving the previous two-term governor. Poole entered his plea just before his trial on 57 corruption-related counts was to begin.

The plea agreement directed Poole to help federal investigators looking at activities surrounding Easley and the governor's associates.

In November 2010, Easley entered an Alford plea to a felony campaign finance violation involving an improperly filed campaign finance report. He had been under investigation for flights he took on private planes as a candidate and his real estate dealings. He was not charged with any other crimes.

An Alford plea meant he did not admit guilt, but acknowledged the evidence against him could lead to a guilty verdict.

Insiders said Poole was known as the "Little Governor" in Easley's office because supporters knew to go to him to get things done.

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