Expert: Fed subpoena could lead to more charges in Cannon case

by: Kathryn Burcham Updated:


CHARLOTTE - The attorney for former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon told Eyewitness News he is still collecting information on the federal investigation that accuses Cannon of taking bribes in exchange for his political influence.

So far Cannon has not been indicted, only charged with corruption and bribery by the U.S. Attorney's Office. Some legal experts have speculated that could mean a plea deal may be in the works to cut down on the amount of time Cannon could face in prison if found guilty. He faces up to 50 years behind bars if convicted on all charges.  

"I can't make any public comments about developments in the case because right now I don't have much information myself," said James Ferguson, Cannon’s attorney. "At some point we will have all the facts that we need to make and that we will make."

Ferguson said this is a difficult time for Cannon and his family, but they are "doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances."

County attorney Marvin Bethune confirmed to Eyewitness news he received the subpoena on Friday and that county staff met Monday morning to discuss the records request from federal investigators.

Legal experts said a federal subpoena for Mecklenburg County records could lead to more charges in the U.S. attorney's investigation into Cannon.

"The city and county are obviously cooperating at this point, they want to be totally transparent with the federal government and provide them with whatever information they need," said Charlotte defense attorney James Wyatt.

Wyatt, who specializes in white-collar crimes, said the subpoena will likely garner hundreds of thousands of records, including documents, emails, text messages and phone calls.

"You can expect their investigation to be extensive, to be long lasting and to be thorough. It could lead to more charges if they uncover more evidence than what is contained within the criminal complaint," Wyatt said.

Cannon allegedly accepted bribes from undercover federal agents and bragged he could and had exerted influence on city and county officials on certain projects, according to a criminal complaint released March 26 -- the same day as his arrest.

Following Cannon's arrest, Bethune said he issued a "litigation hold" to all county employees to prevent them from destroying any documents or potential evidence in the face of a possible subpoena.

Cannon remains free on $25,000 bond.