State News

Ex-Charlotte mayor pleads guilty in corruption case

Posted June 3, 2014

Patrick Cannon

— Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon pleaded guilty Tuesday to a public corruption charge, ending a remarkable rise for a man raised by a single mother in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods.

Cannon's guilty plea was on a single count of honest services wire fraud, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. An FBI sting recorded him accepting thousands of dollars in cash and airline tickets from undercover agents posing as businessmen, according to court documents.

"Yes, sir, your honor, I am," Cannon, a 47-year-old Democrat, told U.S. Magistrate Judge David Cayer when asked whether he was guilty. Cannon also said he understood that he faced a potential sentence of 20 years.

Cayer accepted the guilty plea, and Cannon left the courthouse free on bond. A sentencing date will be set at a later hearing before a U.S. district court judge. Prosecutors said Cannon's continued release would help promote further cooperation with the ongoing FBI investigation.

"I am deeply sorry. I love Charlotte. It is the city of my birth," Cannon said in prepared remarks before a bank of TV cameras outside the federal courthouse. "Today, I have acknowledged being guilty of accepting monies for constituent services, something that should never have been done while serving in elected office."

Cannon was arrested March 26 and resigned the same day, less than six months after taking office. 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.

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 Obama. Cannon also started his own company that manages 25,000 parking spaces, most of them in the city's central business district.

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 also is accused of soliciting up to $1 million more in bribes from the undercover agents.

"It breaks my heart that he did such a thing, and it breaks my heart for the city that I love," said Gov. Pat McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor. "It breaks my heart for an individual I cared a great deal about. The city needs to correct anything that encouraged that type of activity."


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  • rickandlinda88 Jun 3, 2014

    power corrupts.everyone knows that.add in the fact that he grew up poor,no dad and the race card,that will equal that it was ok for him to steal taxpayers money..he earned it!!..that is our president's sense of entitlement...

  • Edward Levy Jun 3, 2014
    user avatar

    No plea deal please. Let the punishment fit the crime

  • mike275132 Jun 3, 2014

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    Cannon is a "friend" of Obama and you are judged by your associations.

    "Cannon allegedly boasted to the undercover agents about an upcoming trip to Washington during a meeting in the mayor’s office. He said he would use his clout to push for Charlotte streetcar funding.

    “So, you know, Friday I’m meeting with the President,” he said. “The President will be asking what my priorities are.

  • LetsBeFair Jun 3, 2014

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    Unfortunately, the list of crooked politicians is long ... Jackson Jr (Chicago), Blagojevich (Chicago), Mr and Mrs Easley Gov and Wife), Jim Black, Sharpton (sued for defamation), M.S. Phipps(ag Comm), Ray Nagin (New Orleans), Kwame Kilpatrick (Detroit) ... and these are all big ones but more could easily be listed.

  • LetsBeFair Jun 3, 2014

    Why isn't this on the FRONT PAGE?
    He should get 20 years just like Blagojevich of Chicago, Jackson Jr, Jim Black, and all the rest of these crooked politicians. They should also be forced to sit out in front of City Hall with a sign, "I'm the crook you elected"

  • weasel2 Jun 3, 2014

    5 years max. If he isn't picked for a cabinet position.

  • Ijaz Fahted Jun 3, 2014
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    Were you confused as to Mr. Cannon's political affiliation prior to reading this article?

    You know you were fully aware he is a Democrat prior to reading this. Is that all you have to say? You do realize that the GOP has crooks in the party too right?

    Must have slipped your mind.

  • Ijaz Fahted Jun 3, 2014
    user avatar

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    What does a disgraced mayor from Charlotte have to do with the former mayor that left to the US Transportation Department? Oh yeah, nothing. Anything to try and make the story about Obama.

  • caronia49 Jun 3, 2014

    What does being raised by a single mother in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods have to do with being a crook?

  • Greg Boop Jun 3, 2014
    user avatar

    Let's hope he gets the 20 years.... but he will probably only get probation.