Legal experts: Cannon's lawyers possibly already met with U.S. attorney

by: Jim Bradley Updated:

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CHARLOTTE —

Nearly a week after former Charlotte Mayor Pat Cannon was arrested, neither his attorney nor federal prosecutors are taking publicly about the case. However, local legal experts say Cannon's team has likely already met with the U.S. attorney's office and could already be testing the waters for a possible plea deal.

The criminal complaint filed in the case against Cannon lists three charges related to public corruption, bribery and fraud.  But prosecutors could seek even more charges when they take the case to a grand jury, which is expected to happen later this month. 

"Their investigation may involve many other matters, many other individuals and many other incidents," said Charlotte attorney James Wyatt. 

Wyatt says Cannon's attorney, James Ferguson, may already be trying to minimize the potential for more charges by working with federal prosecutors toward a potential plea in the case. 

"There could be what's called 'charge bargaining,' where you would attempt to convince a prosecutor to bring a certain charge but not another," said Wyatt.

In order to get cooperation from prosecutors, though, multiple legal experts Eyewitness News has spoken with suggest that Cannon would likely need to offer something himself. 

They said Cannon would have to tell prosecutors if there are other incidents of bribery or illegal activity beyond the current allegations that he accepted thousands of dollars in bribes from undercover FBI agents posing as developers.

"The government may look to see if Mr. Cannon is willing to cooperate and to testify against people who may be involved in those transactions or other transactions," Wyatt said. "They'll want to pursue every avenue.  They'll look for him to be completely truthful with them and if not that could cause big problems."

So far Cannon has not indicated how he might plead to the charges he faces.  They carry a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison.