by: Stephen A. Crockett Jr.
Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon was arrested Wednesday on bribery and corruption charges in an FBI sting operation and resigned hours later from the post he had held for less than six months, the Associated Press reports.
The 47-year-old Democratic politician is accused of taking more than $48,000 in bribes from undercover FBI agents posing as businessmen. He was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond.
Cannon accepted airline tickets, cash, a hotel room and the use of a luxury apartment as bribes and solicited more than $1 million more, according to a criminal complaint from the U.S. attorney’s office, AP reports.
In his resignation letter, Cannon said that the charges “will create too much of a distraction” for the city’s business to go forward smoothly. He resigned with immediate effect, writing to city manager Ron Carlee and city attorney Bob Hagemann, Charlotte spokesman Keith Richardson said in an email to AP.
“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,” Cannon wrote. He was elected mayor in November. Cannon was a longtime radio show host and is the founder of the parking management company E-Z Parking.
The investigation began in August 2010 after a tip from a local undercover officer. According to the complaint, Cannon bragged to the undercover agents about his close relationship with Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and about a recent trip to the White House to meet with President Obama and other top officials.
At one point, an undercover agent said to Cannon, “You’re operating at quite a level, Patrick,” AP reports.
The charging documents allege that on five occasions between January 2013 and February 2014, Cannon was paid by FBI agents posing as commercial real estate developers. Cannon allegedly accepted the cash payments in return for providing access to city officials in charge of planning, zoning and permitting.
If convicted on all the charges, Cannon faces up to 50 years in prison and more than $1 million in fines, AP reports.