The swift rise and the ugly fall of former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon culminated yesterday in a federal courthouse in Charlotte when Cannon pleaded guilty to public corruption, which could possibly send him to jail for 20 years.
Recorded by the FBI accepting thousands of dollars in cash and airline tickets from undercover agents posing as businessmen, Cannon decided not to fight the federal case.
“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, according to the Associated Press. Along with the potential 20-year sentence comes a fine of $250,000.
His sentencing date before a federal judge has not been set.
“I am deeply sorry. I love Charlotte. It is the city of my birth,” Cannon said, reading from prepared remarks 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.”
Less than six months after taking office, Cannon was arrested on March 26 and resigned the same day. The investigation reportedly began when he was still a city councilman in August 2010, based on a tip from a local undercover officer.
Cannon was elected to replace former Mayor Anthony Foxx, who was named transportation secretary by President Obama. Cannon was the owner of a company that manages 25,000 parking spaces, mostly in the city’s central business district.
The feds charged Cannon with accepting more than $48,000 in cash, airline tickets, a hotel room and the use of a luxury apartment from FBI agents who posed as real estate developers. In addition, the mayor is accused of soliciting up to $1 million more in bribes from the undercover agents.
Prosecutors also charged the mayor with accepting $2,000 from the owner of a strip club to make it easier for the nightspot, known as Twin Peeks, to stay in business.
According to documents, Cannon solicited the support of the councilman whose district the club was in, and then he urged zoning and city officials to approve zoning to keep the club in the same location. He also arranged a meeting between the business owner and city officials so that the club could stay open “during an annual racing event,” which brought in big money for the business.