Cannon resigns as mayor, faces federal corruption and bribery charges

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - READ our latest story on the criminal charges against Patrick Cannon.


A major political scandal unraveled in Charlotte Wednesday as Patrick Cannon resigned as Charlotte’s mayor after federal investigators arrested him on bribery and corruption charges.

Documents outline how agents said the mayor abused his power for years.

Cannon submitted his resignation letter to City Manager Ron Carlee and the city's attorney, making his resignation effective immediately.
 
In it he said, "In light of the charges that have been brought against me, it is my judgment that the pendency of these charges will create too much of a distraction for the business of the city to go forward smoothly and without distraction… I regret that I have to take this action, but I believe that it is in the best interest of the city for me to do so."

DOCUMENT: Patrick Cannon's resignation letter

Cannon began his time in office back in 1993, serving as councilman for District 3.

From 2001 to 2005 and 2010 to 2013 he served on the council as mayor pro tem.
 
It will now be up to the city council to name an interim mayor, but they have not said how soon that will happen.
 
It's a process they went through last July when Anthony Foxx resigned to become the U.S. transportation secretary.

The council appointed Patsy Kinsey as interim mayor until Cannon was elected.

WATCH: Patrick Cannon's first 100 days as mayor

The mayor pro tem takes on the mayor's duties in his absence at council meetings, according to state law.  

On any given day the city manager and council run the city so Charlotte still has leadership.

Cannon was released from jail on $25,000 bond.


Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon was arrested Wednesday by FBI agents for alleged violations of federal public corruption laws, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

The federal criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court charged Cannon, 47, with theft and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, honest services wire fraud and extortion under color of official right.

WATCH: Charlotte City Council makes statement on Cannon's arrest

According to allegations contained in the charging document and the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, during the course of a separate criminal investigation, the FBI received reliable information that Cannon was potentially involved in illegal activities associated with his position as an elected official, and began an undercover investigation in or about August 2010.

SPECIAL SECTION: Charlotte's Mayor Patrick Cannon

The complaint and affidavit allege that during the course of that investigation, Cannon solicited and accepted money bribes and things of value from undercover FBI agents, posing as commercial real estate developers and investors wishing to do business in Charlotte. As alleged in the filed documents, Cannon solicited and accepted such bribes and things of value in exchange for the use of his official position as Charlotte Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem and/or as a City Council Member.

WATCH: Mayor Cannon speaks during his 2013 campaign

The complaint and law enforcement affidavit allege that Cannon accepted the bribes from the undercover FBI agents on five separate occasions. On the last occasion, on Feb. 21 Cannon allegedly accepted $20,000 in cash in the mayor’s office. According to the complaint and the affidavit, between January 2013 and February 2014, Cannon allegedly accepted from the undercover agents over $48,000 in cash, airline tickets, a hotel room and use of a luxury apartment in exchange for the use of his official position.

READ past coverage of Mayor Cannon

Cannon had his initial appearance in court Wednesday and has been released on bond, pending indictment. The charge of theft and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds carries a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; the charge of honest services wire fraud carries a statutory maximum sentence of not more than 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine; and the charge of extortion under color of official right carries a statutory maximum sentence of not more than 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The charges contained in the criminal complaint are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.

WATCH: Cannon speaks to Channel 9 during Charlotte's Next Mayor special in October

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael E. Savage of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina. The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Gov. Pat McCrory released the following statement today after learning of the arrest of Cannon:

 "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," McCrory stated. "This is not the city that I know, served and love. This alleged behavior is inexcusable and cannot be tolerated."

Edwin Peacock III, who ran against Cannon for mayor, released the following statement after learning of Cannon's arrest:

"The people of Charlotte deserve nothing but the highest ethical behavior from our elected officials. The public trust has been shattered and must now be restored."

To read more reaction from local groups and officials, click here.


Legal analyst provides more perspective on Cannon’s arrest

Channel 9 reached out to a legal analyst for more perspective on Cannon’s arrest and case.

The analyst said there’s a possibility that agents used video and audio recordings -- even marked money in an effort to bring these charges against Cannon. Read more by clicking here.


CEO of local organization says it's too soon to sever ties with mayor

Mayor Patrick Cannon has been a mentor for several organizations in the city of Charlotte.
 
Channel 9 spoke to one organization's CEOs about Wednesday’s developments.
 
She said she hopes the news doesn't overshadow the good work Big Brothers and Big Sisters does in the community. Read more by clicking here.


Mentoring group former mayor participated in reacts to accusation

Patrick Cannon's rise from public housing to public office was a success story often touted by Men Who Care Global.
 
The organization works to provide positive role models and mentors to young African-American men and boys. Executive Director Victor Earl said he never imagined Cannon's journey would include the possibility of time in the penitentiary. Read more by clicking here.