Charlotte mayor resigns after corruption arrest


by Staff

Posted on March 27, 2014 at 7:09 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. –  Mayor Patrick Cannon (D) has resigned following his arrest on public corruption charges Wednesday morning.

Cannon submitted a letter of resignation to the Charlotte city manager and city attorney on Wednesday, following an arrest on charges of public corruption.

City Manager Ron Carlee tells NBC Charlotte that Cannon's resignation is effective immediately. Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes will take over immediately in the interim until city council appoints a city councilmember as the new mayor. 

“It is incumbent upon me and my colleagues to make sure that people know that we are going to continue to be about the business of Charlotte, and taking care of this city,” said Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes.

Sources say that Cannon is "not cooperating" wih investigators, and that the corruption investigation continues to "identify others who might be involved". Those sources also said Cannon was "very upset" and "absolutely surprised" when he was arrested Wednesday morning in the FBI sting.

Here's a photo of the letter sent to City Manager Ron Carlee and City Attorney Bob Hagemann:

On a mobile device? Click here to read the letter.

Cannon appeared in federal court briefly Wednesday afternoon, just 114 days after taking office.

Read more: Full complaint filed against Patrick Cannon

Cannon, 47, faces several charges including theft and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, honest services wire fraud and extortion under color of official right.

The arrest follows an undercover investigation that began in August 2010. Authorities allege Cannon solicited and accepted cash from undercover FBI agents posing as real estate developers and investors who wanted to do business in Charlotte.

Cannon, a Charlotte native, allegedly accepted bribes in exchange for the privileges of his position as an elected official, whether it be as mayor, mayor pro tem or a city council member.

Read more: Cannon marks 100 days in office, cites collabrative approach
Read more: Department of Justice press release on Cannon charges

The FBI says he accepted money from agents on five separate occasions. The last was on February 21, 2014. He is accused of accepting $20,000 in cash at the mayor’s office. The exchanges began in January 2013, according to the Department of Justice.

In total, Mayor Cannon accepted about $48,000 in cash, airline tickets, a hotel room and use of a luxury apartment, the FBI says. Some of the money, documents say, included cash to fund a business Cannon said he wanted to fund called HERS, a feminine hygiene product to be sold in the United States.

10 best excerpts from Cannon affidavit

The indictment against Cannon alleges he characterized any rewards as business investments that were unrelated to his public office.

Repoter Rad Berky was the only one outside of the courthouse when now-former Mayor Cannon walked out from the building. Cannon didn't have much to say when asked about the charges.

"What happened? Can you tell us what happened?" -- RB
"Well, nothing at this point that I can discuss. But I'll certainly be back in contact with you." -- PC
"What would you tell the voters of the city today, sir?" -- RB
"There's nothing too much I can say at this point, but when I'm able to, I'll touch base." -- PC

In one exchange with investigators, Cannon concluded the conversation but alluded to a possible arrested.

“I look good to in an orange necktie, but not in an orange suit,” the affidavit quotes Cannon as saying.

The FBI says Cannon was given multiple chances to return the money he accepted.

He faces a maximum sentence of:
•    10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for theft and bribery
•    20 years and $1,000,000 fine for honest services wire fraud
•    20 years and $250,000 fine for extortion

Meanwhile, Cannon is free on a $25,000 unsecured bond.

Edwin Peacock, III, the Republican candidate who ran againt Cannon for Mayor in the last election, released the following statement to NBC Charlotte late Wednesday night:

This is a very sad day for our city.  The people of Charlotte deserve nothing but the highest ethical behavior from our elected officials. The public trust has been shattered and it now must be restored.

Our prayers are with the Cannon family during this difficult time.

Cannon is also CEO of EZ-Parking in Charlotte. Law enforcement agents searched the mayor's house and obtained a warrant to search the business after Wednesday's hearing.

After Wednesday's developments, the NCGOP called for Cannon's resignation. Governor McCrory issued a statement:

“I am both saddened and angered because I have known Patrick and his family for over 30 years, but more than anything, my heart is broken for the City of Charlotte,” said Governor McCrory. “This is not the city that I know, served and love. This alleged behavior is inexcusable and cannot be tolerated.”

From Mecklenburg County Manager Dena R. Diorio:

We are aware of the allegations against and arrest of Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon.

We are reviewing the documents and criminal complaint, and know there are references by Cannon regarding Mecklenburg County's Code Enforcement process.

We are not aware of any connection to the County, but will cooperate fully with any investigation.

Stuart Watson talks about the details in the affidavit. Watch it here: