Investigation Into Former Mayor Patrick Cannon

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by Caryn Little

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon has been arrested for alleged violations of federal public corruption laws. 

Click HERE to read the official news release from the Department of Justice.

A news release from the Department of Justice says Cannon has been charged with theft and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, honest services wire fraud and extortion under color of official right. 

Click HERE to read the official criminal complaint.

The FBI says they received reliable information that Cannon was potentially involved in illegal activities associated with his position as an elected official, and began an undercover investigation in August 2010. 

Click HERE to read Cannon's resignation letter.

During the course of the investigation, Cannon is accused of soliciting and accepting money bribes and things of value from undercover FBI agents, posing as commercial real estate developers and investors wishing to do business in Charlotte. 

As alleged in the filed documents, Cannon solicited and accepted bribes and things of value in exchange for the use of his official position as Charlotte Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem and as a City Council Member.

The complaint and law enforcement affidavit allege that Cannon accepted the bribes from the undercover FBI agents on five separate occasions. 

On the last occasions, on February 21, 2014, Cannon allegedly accepted $20,000 in cash in the Mayor's office.  According to the complaint and the affidavit, between January 2013 and February 2014, Cannon allegedly accepted from the undercover agents over $48,000 in cash, airline tickets, a hotel room, and use of a luxury apartment in exchange for the use of his official position. 

Cannon had his initial appearance today and has been released on bond, pending indictment. 

The charge of theft and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

The charge of honest services wire fraud carries a statutory maximum sentence of not more than 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine. 

The charge of extortion under color of official right carries a statutory maximum sentence of not more than 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The Charlotte City Council released this statement:

We were notified today at the same time as the public that Mayor Patrick Cannon was arrested on federal charges.

The City Council is deeply disappointed to learn of the Mayor's arrest.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.  His arrest came as a complete surprise to the City Council and the City Manager.  The first any of us learned about the investigation is when the FBI served a search warrant on the Mayor's Office at noon today.

The City Manager and City Attorney have spoken with the U.S. Attorney and have committed the City's full cooperation.  The City Manager has also directed that all City staff fully cooperate.

The City of Charlotte has a long history of honest government and the City Council is dedicated to preserving the City's reputation.

It is our expectation that all business of City government be conducted honestly and fairly.

While there will be extensive media attention to Mayor Cannon's arrest, it is our expectation that the City Manager and the professional staff of the City focus on providing excellent city services: the trash will be collected, emergency calls answered, buses and trains will run, and the water will flow and sewage be treated.

Charlotte has a Council/Manager form of Government.  The Mayor's role is to preside over Council meetings and represent the City officially.  The Council is responsible for adopting laws and the budget.  The City Council and City staff will continue to serve the public with honesty, integrity, openness and accountability.

Under State law, Patrick Cannon remains Mayor unless and until he either resigns or is convicted of a felony.  The City Council has no power to remove a Mayor.  In the Mayor's absence from any meeting, the Mayor Pro Tem presides.  If the Mayor resigns or is convicted of a felony, the City Council would appoint a Mayor to fulfill the remainder of the term.

Finally, the City reiterates that there is an on-going federal investigation.  We are cooperating fully with the investigation and it would be inappropriate to comment on the investigation at this time.  The City Council and City staff are focused on the continuity of government and providing the highest standards of services to the citizens of Charlotte.

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