Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Corruption: US - Charlotte: Former city mayor sentenced to more than three years for accepting bribes

U.S. Attorney’s Office 
Western District of North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, NC—Today, Chief U.S. District Judge Frank D. Whitney sentenced former Charlotte Mayor Patrick D. Cannon, 47, to 44 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release for accepting more than $50,000 in bribes while serving in office, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina and John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division. Judge Whitney also ordered Cannon to pay a $10,000 fine and forfeiture in the amount of $50,500.

U.S. Attorney Tompkins stated, “Patrick Cannon betrayed the public’s trust and embarrassed the city he was elected to serve. Cannon accepted more than $50,000 in bribes, but the social injury to this community is far deeper. While the perception of rampant public corruption can slowly tear a community apart, justice can bind us together and restore our faith in our government. Today, Cannon was held accountable for using his official position for personal gain. His sentence is also a reminder that my office will prosecute those who put personal interests ahead of the people they were elected to serve.”

“Patrick Cannon sold his oath of office, violated the integrity of our government, and betrayed the citizens of Charlotte. Public corruption will not be tolerated; no matter the position or names of those involved. As outlined in the criminal complaint, the FBI is uniquely positioned to dedicate whatever resources necessary to expose even the most deeply entrenched and secretive pay to play schemes,” said John Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in North Carolina.

According to filed court documents and today’s sentencing hearing, from 2009 to March 2014, while serving as City Council Member and/or Mayor Pro Tem, and later as the Mayor of Charlotte, Cannon solicited and accepted bribes such as gifts, cash and other things of value totaling over $50,000, in exchange for a pattern of official actions. Court records show that Cannon accepted the bribes from a Charlotte business owner and two undercover agents posing as investors interested in opening businesses in Charlotte, in exchange for use of his official position on an “as needed” basis. Court records indicate that Cannon promised to use his influence with city and county officials and others to assist his payors’ with business projects and to intervene with any zoning, permitting and transportation issues, among others. In June 2014, Cannon pleaded guilty to one count of honest services wire fraud.

In announcing today’s sentence, Judge Whitney commented on the seriousness of the offense, stating that public corruption undermines the legitimacy of government and the public’s faith in its elected leaders and it feeds the cynics who believe that all government is corrupt.

Following the sentencing hearing, Cannon was released on bond. The court rejected the defendant’s request for a later reporting date and he will be ordered to self- report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.

The investigation was handled by the Charlotte Division of the FBI. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael E. Savage and Craig D. Randall of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte prosecuted the case.
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