Mayor of Charlotte arrested on public corruption charges
Published March 26, 2014
Oct. 29, 2013: Then-candidate for Charlotte mayor Patrick Cannon speaks to students at Queens University in Charlotte, N.C.AP
The mayor of Charlotte, N.C. — the state’s largest city and the site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention — was arrested Wednesday on public corruption charges and accused of taking bribes after an FBI sting.
Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon, a 47-year-old Democrat, is facing theft and bribery charges, U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins said. Cannon is accused of soliciting and accepting bribes from undercover FBI agents posing as real estate developers who wanted to do business in Charlotte.
According to the U.S. attorney’s office, the FBI first learned that he may have been involved in illegal activities years ago and started an investigation in 2010.
During the course of that probe, the mayor allegedly accepted bribes from undercover FBI agents on five separate occasions, in exchange for access to city officials responsible for planning, zoning and permitting.
A criminal complaint said Cannon is 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.
During the last encounter, according to the U.S. attorney’s office, he accepted $20,000 in cash.
If convicted on all the charges, he faces 20 years in prison and more than $1 million in fines.
Cannon was elected mayor in November, replacing Anthony Foxx. Foxx was named Transportation Secretary by President Obama.
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.”
In a separate case, federal agents on Wednesday also arrested a California state senator during a series of raids in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area.
FBI spokesman Peter Lee confirmed the arrest of State Sen. Leland Yee, but declined to discuss the charges, citing an ongoing investigation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.