Ex-CLT Mayor Speaks About Voter Fraud Charge
CHARLOTTE, NC — Disgraced ex-Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon will not serve any extra prison time for voter fraud thanks to a plea deal.
Judge Robert Ervin allowed the agreement during the brief hearing Wednesday.
Cannon faced a maximum of 120 days in prison for attempted voter fraud.
He spoke to the court before Judge Ervin agreed to accept the deal.
“I want to thank you for the opportunity to come here under these circumstances,” said Cannon. “I want to apologize to the court for doing so, but I want to thank the court for indulging me in this process.”
Cannon cast an early ballot in Oct. 2014 after he pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from undercover FBI agents while he was Charlotte Mayor.
“The vote was never counted,” Defense Attorney James Ferguson told the judge. “No harm was ever done.”
Cannon’s attorney argued Cannon didn’t know his right to vote was gone before his sentencing date.
“Mr. Cannon has excepted, and does accept, full responsibility,” said Ferguson.
Cannon nodded in agreement.
It took the judge less than 15 minutes to hear from both sides and agree to the plea deal.
That deal downgrades the felony voter fraud charge to a misdemeanor attempting to vote without having been restored the rights to citizenship by law. Cannon will serve one day in prison for the crime.
That time will be served while he finishes his corruption sentence in federal prison.
“He did not get this deal or this offer because of who he was. He got it because of the circumstances of the case,” said Assistant District Attorney Reed Hunt. “We can’t say that other people would get the same thing or not because we don’t know the circumstances that hypothetical case.”
The District Attorney’s Office didn’t know how much the trip and prosecution costs taxpayers.
It costs more than $150 dollars per day to house an inmate in the Mecklenburg County Jail.The North Carolina Department of Corrections will have to factor in the travel costs for the 800 mile trip to and from Morgantown, West Virginia and court costs.
Some attorneys estimate the total could reach tens of thousands of dollars.
“He was glad to be able to come here and get this behind him and not have to face this when he got out,” said Ferguson.
Ferguson didn’t know what job Cannon has been doing while in federal prison.
“He still has a positive attitude, and he realizes he still has a bright future ahead of him,” said Ferguson. “He’s looking forward to getting out building that future.”
WCCB Charlotte Legal Contributor John Snyder says since Cannon has not been charged with a felony on the state level, he is eligible to run for office once he is out of federal prison.
Cannon is eligible for early release from as early as this Summer. He would be on house arrest or stay at a half way home.