Federal prosecutors say that a request for a trial delay by Ruffin Poole was made based on "three faulty premises" and that the trial should take place in April or May — not August, as Poole has sought.
The prosecutors also indicate they want to make decisions soon in a wide-ranging probe that surrounds former Gov. Mike Easley. They ask a judge to allow for any trial of Poole to be finished by June 4.
"It is in the public interest to conclude the prosecution of this defendant and the broader investigation as soon as practicable," they wrote in a new court filing.
They said in the court filing that the charges against Poole arose from their broader investigation.
Poole, a longtime aide to Easley, is accused of 51 corruption charges related to allegations he invested in coastal real estate deals and took action to help them while he was a senior aide to the governor.
An attorney for Poole, in a filing last week, sought a delay by noting that the government has been preparing its case for about one year; that the volume of material gathered by the government requires extra time for Poole to prepare; and that Poole is outmanned by the government and so he deserves extra time.
Prosecutors disagreed. They said:
• The suggestion they have been investigating Poole for a year is "misleading."
They say the case against Poole came together in the August/September timeframe, indicating it was developed out of the larger probe surrounding Easley.
They say grand jury transcripts and other documents provided to Poole show that to be the case.
• Poole's defense team has been reviewing his criminal exposure since at least Sept. 2009.
They say a former FBI agent working for Poole began taking statements of potential trial witnesses in September, including in at least two cases interviewing witnesses before the federal government located the people.
They also point out that Poole avoided testifying at the state Board of Elections hearing in October, with Poole's lawyer involved in managing his potential criminal exposure.
• Poole's lawyer has "the advantage of the defendant's knowledge of how he arranged his financial dealings" and that knowledge should help him focus quickly on the most relevant records in mounting a defense.
They note that Poole's lawyer works for a major firm, Poyner Spruill, that touts its expertise, technological abilities and other abilities on its Web site.
They also say they and other agents have other duties and have not been focused on this case entirely.
The prosecutors also note that some of the charges against Poole deal with honest services fraud, an area of the law under review by the U.S. Supreme Court. But they say any action by the Supreme Court on that area is irrelevant because the evidence for those charges relates to others against Poole.
— J. Andrew Curliss