by: Jim Bradley Updated:CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
Former Charlotte Mayor Pat Cannon is likely to remain free for months despite his guilty plea Tuesday on federal corruption charges.
Before Cannon can be sentenced by a federal judge, probation officials will have to complete a lengthy pre-sentence investigation report.
That report will include an interview with Cannon along with a close look at his history, the corruption charges to which he pleaded guilty, and other factors that could potentially shorten or lengthen his sentence.
That information will be considered by Judge Frank Whitney who right now is scheduled to decide Cannon's sentence.
"There's often a lot of time, months even sometimes years between the time someone pleads and the time they're sentenced," said legal expert James Wyatt. In the meantime, Wyatt says, Cannon remains in legal limbo. Until he's sentenced he will remain free with few restrictions on his ability to live or work in Charlotte.
Cannon's sentencing could also be put on hold for other reasons. As part of his plea deal with federal prosecutors Cannon is required to cooperate with the FBI's ongoing investigation into public corruption in Charlotte. If others are charged, legal experts say it’s likely prosecutors would want to delay Cannon's sentencing until they decide if he'd be required to testify against others.
Wyatt said he believes the earliest Cannon will be sentenced is late summer or early fall. Cannon faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. Many legal experts say he's most likely to receive a sentence of four to six years.
Ultimately it’s the federal judge who will decide. Until he does, Cannon will remain both an admitted felon and a free man.