CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WCNC) – Mayor Patrick Cannon has resigned following his arrest on public corruption charges Wednesday morning. Legally he could have kept the mayor's seat until he was convicted.
Mayor Cannon appeared in federal court briefly this afternoon, 114 days after taking office. 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.
The FBI says he accepted money from agents on five separate occasions. The last was on Feb. 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.
In one report, an officer known as UCE1 wrote, "when UCE1 presented the cash, Cannon looked nervously towards the window and covered the money with a folder. Cannon's reaction caused UCE1 to close the window blinds. After UCE1 closed the window blinds, Cannon placed the money near his ear and fanned the bills."
WCNC reporter Rad Berky was the only one outside of the courthouse when Mayor Cannon walked out from the building. The mayor 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
Cannon is free on a $25,000 unsecured bond.
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
N.C. Governor Pat McCrory issued the following statement on Cannon's arrest:
"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."