CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon was expected to plead guilty Tuesday in a corruption case after an FBI sting recorded him accepting thousands of dollars in cash and airline tickets from undercover agents posing as businessmen, according to court documents.
Cannon agreed to plead guilty to a single count of honest services wire fraud, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to documents filed Monday at U.S. District Court. Cannon was set to appear Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Cayer.
Cannon, 47, was arrested March 26 and the Democrat resigned the same day, less than six months after taking office. Cannon’s lawyer, James Ferguson of Charlotte, did not immediately respond to a message left at his office.
Cannon’s admission of guilt ends a remarkable rise for a man raised by a single mother in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. He went on to start his own company that manages 25,000 parking spaces, mostly in the city’s central business district.
Cannon was first elected to the City Council in 1993 and became mayor in November, replacing Anthony Foxx, who was named Transportation Secretary by President Barack Obama.
According to the federal criminal complaint, Cannon accepted more than $48,000 in cash, airline tickets, a hotel room and the use of a luxury apartment from FBI agents posing as real estate developers who wanted to do work with North Carolina’s largest city. Cannon is also accused of soliciting up to $1 million more in bribes from the undercover agents.
If he had been convicted on all charges at trial, Cannon faced up to 50 years in prison and more than $1 million in fines.
The investigation began in August 2010 after a tip from a local undercover officer about public corruption. At the time, Cannon was a city councilman.
The complaint said Cannon bragged to agents about his close relationship with former Charlotte mayor and current North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, as well as a recent meeting he had at the White House with Obama. In exchange for the bribes, the mayor promised the undercover agents access to city officials responsible for planning, zoning and permitting, according to the complaint.
On the last occasion, a private meeting in the mayor’s office on Feb. 21, the agent reportedly gave Cannon a briefcase filled with $20,000 in cash.
Politicians Doing Time for Their Crime
1. Former Congressman William Jefferson1 of 18
2. Former Detroit City Council President Monica Conyers2 of 18
3. Former Ohio State Representative W. Carlton Weddington3 of 18
4. Sisters of corruption -Jane Orie, Joan Orie Melvin and Janine Orie4 of 18
5. Former Alabama State Representative James Thomas5 of 18
6. Former Mississippi state prosecutor and judge Bobby DeLaughter6 of 18
7. Former New York State Senator Shirley Huntley7 of 18
8. Former Governor of Illinois and golden boy Rod Blagojevich8 of 18
9. Former Prince George's County Council member Leslie Johnson9 of 18
10. Former Prince County Executive Jack B. Johnson10 of 18
11. Former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford11 of 18
12. Former Federal District Judge Samuel B. Kent (Texas)12 of 18
13. Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin13 of 18
14. Former City Councilman Larry Seabrook14 of 18
15. Former New York State Senator Efrain Gonzalez15 of 18
16. Former Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland16 of 18
17. Former State Senator Dianne Wilkerson17 of 18
18. Current D.C. Council member Marion Barry18 of 18
(Photo Source: AP)