Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter said Tuesday he believed the federal government’s corruption investigation is at “the end,” though prosecutor Anne Tompkins left the door open for more arrests, saying she wouldn’t comment on an “ongoing investigation.”
But prosecutors at former Mayor Patrick Cannon’s sentencing hearing suggested Cannon’s cooperation has not led to any new leads inside the Government Center.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig D. Randall said during the hearing that Cannon met with him and FBI agents twice and answered all their questions and volunteered information without being asked. But he characterized Cannon’s help as informational rather than leading to new probes.
“His answers were able to put things to rest ... preventing the government from spinning its wheels,” Randall said.
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Cannon also provided “other information about the inner workings of city government,” Randall said. But he said the information “hasn’t been developed” and may not be.
After Cannon’s March 26 arrest, the U.S. Attorney’s Office issued what the city described as an “extremely broad” subpoena for public records involving Cannon. The subpoena was later extended to Mecklenburg County.
City Attorney Bob Hagemann said Tuesday that he believes the city has no pending directives for documents.
“We believe we have fully cooperated with their subpoena,” Hagemann said. “We have done our best to full cooperate with the federal investigation and we believe that we did so.”
City Manager Ron Carlee adamantly defended the city and city employees in March, a day after Cannon was arrested. He continued to say that he read nothing in the federal government’s affidavit against Cannon that led him to believe there were systemic problems in the city.
Carlee also created a telephone hotline for citizens or employees who want to report possible corruption or undue influence in the city.
Cannon boasted to federal agents posing as businessmen that he could use his influence to help their developments win approval and to smooth over any potential problems with issues such as planning and zoning and permitting.
Carlee said Tuesday he couldn’t comment on whether the federal government had told him that it is finished with the city.
Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio said Tuesday the county has not received any new subpoenas and she’s not been re-interviewed by federal investigators in the Cannon case.
And “as far as I know,” no one else who works for the county has, Diorio said.
“I can’t say they’re done with the county. The investigation is ongoing,” she said. “I don’t know what they’re looking at, but I don’t have any indication that they are looking at the county. We have no way of knowing at this point that they are looking at the county.”
Clodfelter Tuesday spoke with the media in his 15th floor office – the same room in which Cannon accepted a $20,000 bribe in a briefcase earlier this year.
“I have not observed that there is any widespread or significant problems in the organization,” he said, speaking of the city.
He added that he doesn’t think Cannon’s 44-month sentence is a “permanent stain on his life or on the city of Charlotte.”
Clodfelter said he had not spoken with anyone from the U.S. Attorney’s Office about their investigation.
During Tuesday’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Frank Whitney said that Charlotte is not known as one of the nation’s most corrupt cities, citing Chicago, New Orleans and Newark.
A City Council committee is considering whether to change the council’s ethics policy, including requiring more reporting on a financial disclosure form and outlining what can and can’t be accepted as gifts.
Clodfelter said any changes to an ethics policy would not prevent a repeat of Cannon’s willingness to accept bribes.
“What happened was illegal under existing standards and existing policy,” he said. “We need to remind people to be constantly be thinking of integrity.”
If Cannon begins serving his sentence at the end of this year, his time would be complete in the second half of 2018.
He is not eligible to vote or hold office due to his felony conviction, but “generally” those rights are “automatically restored” once someone completes his or her sentence and probation, according to the UNC School of Government.
Elizabeth Leland contributed to this story.