State News

Charlotte mayor facing corruption charges

Posted March 26, 2014
Updated April 3, 2014

— Less than six months on the job, the mayor of Charlotte was arrested and accused Wednesday of accepting more than $48,000 in bribes from FBI agents posing as real estate developers who wanted to do business with North Carolina's largest city.

Mayor Patrick Cannon, a 47-year-old Democrat, faces theft and bribery charges, U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins said. Cannon was accused of soliciting and accepting more than $48,000 in cash, airline tickets, a hotel room and the use of a luxury apartment as bribes.

If convicted on all the charges, he faces 20 years in prison and more than $1 million in fines.

Cannon, a radio host and the owner of a parking management company, was elected mayor in November, replacing Anthony Foxx, who was named Transportation Secretary by President Barack Obama.

Telephone messages left for Cannon were not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.

Pat McCrory, who served as Charlotte's mayor for 14 years before graduating to the governor's mansion, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying:

“I am both saddened and angered because I have known Patrick and his family for over 30 years, but more than anything, my heart is broken for the City of Charlotte. This is not the city that I know, served and love. This alleged behavior is inexcusable and cannot be tolerated.”

FBI agents posing as commercial real estate developers paid Cannon on five separate occasions between January 2013 and February 2014, according to the complaint. Cannon accepted cash in exchange for access to city officials responsible for planning, zoning and permitting.

On the last occasion, Cannon was accused of accepting $20,000 in cash in the mayor's office, the complaint said.

The investigation began in August 2010, when Cannon still held an at-large seat on the Charlotte City Council.

Cannon was first elected to City Council in 1993. He is also longtime radio show host who discusses local and national politics. In November, he defeated Republican challenger Edwin Peacock.

Cannon was also accused of accepting $12,500 from an undercover agent to help him develop a feminine hygiene product called "Hers" to be marketed and sold in the United States. In exchange, Cannon offered to help the undercover agent — posing as a business manager for a venture capital company — get the necessary permits to open a nightclub.

During the meeting, an undercover agent told Cannon: "You know, again whatever you can do to get our application moved up towards the top, uh, business license and things like that, that we need."

According to the complaint, Cannon responded: "Yeah, not a problem."

Cannon later had a discussion with the undercover agent, apparently attempting to clarify to the mayor that the money was strictly seed money for the "Hers" product and not payment for his help in opening the nightclub. Cannon ended the conversation by saying he looked good "in an orange necktie, but not an orange suit," according to the complaint.

When the agent set up two later meetings to discuss the money and give Cannon an opportunity to return it, Cannon failed to show up, the complaint said.

During his campaign, Cannon promoted plans to create jobs in a city of 760,000 people that has become one of the nation's leading banking and energy centers.

Big banks helped drive Charlotte's explosive growth over the past two decades. The city is home to Bank of America Corp., one of the nation's largest banks by assets.

But the city's financial institutions were hurt in the nation's banking meltdown. Since 2008, Charlotte has lost thousands of good-paying financial services jobs.


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  • Wise Man Says Apr 8, 2014

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    To be fair to WRAL, this article was posted on 3/26 and then updated last week. So, it's going to be further down.

    What I would like to see is an article about the FBI arresting several prominent Democrat politicians all over the country for bribery, fraud and that one from California for conspiring to traffic illegal weapons from an undercover FBI agent. However, since these are Democrats, I'm not holding my breath waiting for that AP story.

  • oscarb Mar 28, 2014

    I love how WRAL moved this so far down on its site that you can hardly find it now. If this was a republican, it would be headlines for DAYS but noooo. Unbelievable!!

  • tdouble232323 Mar 27, 2014

    The default position from NC Dems, "everybody does it." Thing is, there are not other examples of high profile politicians taking briefcases full of cash in this state for favors. Well, strike that, we do have other examples but they are also convicted felons, and also Democrats.

  • gotnoid Mar 27, 2014

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    Wow! I guess my satire was not obvious to everyone-

  • Wise Man Says Mar 26, 2014

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    True. But our country is the most divided now than it has ever been, especially along party lines. That's why you have this sports-like trash talk as if political parties are sports teams.

  • workingforthosethatwont Mar 26, 2014

    dang. it never seems to stop.

  • rhess2 Mar 26, 2014

    For all those posters that like to point out the Mayor of Charlotte is a Democrat, his political party affiliation has nothing to do with his criminal activities. In our Nations history there have both Democrat and Republican elected officials that have been prosecuted for wrongdoing. That's a fact and the truth is it's sad when any person holding public office violates the public's trust.

  • Steve Lancaster Mar 26, 2014
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  • Walkin Man Mar 26, 2014

    Once again, greed rears its ugly head.

  • Kenny Dunn Mar 26, 2014
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    Sad, but true, on the lesser of 2 evils bit. There are few votes cast these days that are really 'for' a candidate in as much as it's 'against' the alternative.