Former Charlotte, N.C. mayor faces federal prison in corruption sentencing

Former Mayor Patrick Cannon 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.

Chuck Burton/AP/File
Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon (c.) walks past the media as he leaves the federal courthouse in Charlotte, N.C., in June. Cannon is scheduled to be sentenced, Tuesday, in a federal corruption case, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/, File)

The former mayor of Charlotte will be sentenced Tuesday 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.

Prosecutors have promised not to ask for a prison sentence of more than five years, but U.S. District Judge Frank Whitney is not bound by the plea agreement.

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. He 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, according to the federal criminal complaint. Cannon also was accused of soliciting up to $1 million in additional bribes from the undercover agents.

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 formerCharlotte 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.

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