Federal judge set to sentence former mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, in corruption case

Associated Press

The former mayor of Charlotte is being sentenced in a federal corruption case that stunned North Carolina's largest city.

In a deal with prosecutors, Patrick Cannon, 47, pleaded guilty in June to one count of honest services wire fraud, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Continue Reading Below

A sentencing hearing was set for 9 a.m. EDT Tuesday in federal court in Charlotte.

Prosecutors say Cannon accepted nearly $50,000 in bribes between January 2013, when he was a city councilman, and February 2014 — three months after he was elected mayor.

Cannon was arrested March 26 and resigned the same day.

In exchange for Cannon's guilty plea, prosecutors have promised not to ask for a prison sentence of more than five years, the recommendation under federal guidelines.

U.S. District Judge Frank Whitney is not bound by the plea agreement.

U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins has called Cannon a politician on retainer, saying he accepted a stream of cash and gifts.

By any measure, Cannon's rise was as remarkable as his downfall was swift.

Cannon was first elected to the city council in 1993 at 26, becoming the youngest member in Charlotte's history. He won the mayor's seat in November.

When he was 5, Cannon's father was found dead of a gunshot wound outside a vacant school. Cannon was raised by his mother, who worked on a truck assembly line. They lived in public housing projects.

After high school, Cannon earned a degree in communications from North Carolina A&T State University.

As a young man, Cannon's confidence and ambition caught the attention of some of the city's biggest power brokers, including former Charlotte mayor and current Gov. Pat McCrory. Cannon used those political and social connections to build a business managing 25,000 parking spaces, most in the city's central business district.

His arrest shocked many who had worked with him and rocked a city that has prided itself on clean government.

The investigation began in 2010, when Cannon was a city councilman, after a tip from a local undercover officer about public corruption.

According to the federal criminal complaint, Cannon was recorded accepting 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 expedited permitting and zoning approvals. Cannon also was accused of soliciting up to $1 million in additional bribes from the undercover agents.