A federal criminal complaint alleges that Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon agreed to accept $48,500 in cash, airline tickets, a hotel room, and the use of a luxury apartment “in exchange for the use of his official position.”
Here are key excerpts:
The alleged payoffs
• At a Jan. 17, 2013, meeting, the undercover agent allegedly “gave CANNON $12,500 in cash by placing it on the coffee table in front of him. At the same time, (the agent) stated: ‘Well, there is the twelve five under the radar.’ When (the agent) presented the cash, CANNON looked nervously towards the window and covered the money with a folder. … After (the agent) closed the window blinds, CANNON placed the money near his ear and fanned the bills. Before and after he was given this cash, CANNON promoted himself as the right person to insure that (the agent) does not have any problems with the City.” Later in 2013, Cannon accepted more money from a second undercover agent, who posed as a real estate developer.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
“CANNON accepted cash payments and services with the quid pro quo that “he would be there” should the... projects experience any problems with zoning, planning or alcohol permits.”
“CANNON agreed to vouch for the (undercover agent) to foreign investors at a Las Vegas meeting by claiming that he used his influence as a City Council Member to assist in the construction of the Metropolitan – a mixed-use commercial real estate development in Midtown Charlotte.
“…CANNON acknowledged the entire premise of the presentation would be fictitious by stating, ‘[W]ell, if it’s made up, it really doesn’t really matter.’
“…CANNON then raised the issue of compensation for his part in the scheme. When (the agent) replied that ‘I wanna take care of you on this,’ CANNON immediately suggested a campaign contribution before the campaign reporting period ended on June 30 – shortly before the Las Vegas trip was to take place.
“…CANNON accepted an all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas, plus $6,000 cash, in exchange for CANNON’S attendance at a meeting of “foreign investors” in which he misrepresented his relationship with the (undercover agents) and promised to use his official position to advance the interests of the (agent’s) development projects in Charlotte.”
• In July 2013, Cannon met again with the second undercover agent.
“CANNON accepted a $10,000 cash payment for using his official position to secure the investment of a purported foreign businessman in (the agent’s) development company.”
• In February 2014, Cannon allegedly met with a “skeptical investor” in the Mayor’s office and then accepted $20,000 cash from the undercover agent.
“CANNON then commented on the total amount that the foreign investors had agreed to commit to (the undercover agent) and made a suggestion that he should be paid a percentage … Both (the undercover agent) and your Affiant (FBI special agent Eric Davis) believe that CANNON was soliciting (the agent) for a 1% payment on the $125 million dollar deal, which would be a payment of $1.25 million to CANNON.
“(The undercover agent) then gave CANNON a leather Fossil briefcase containing $20,000 in cash.”
The luxury apartment
In 2012, the FBI covertly leased an apartment in an upscale SouthPark complex. The apartment gave undercover agents credibility and a place to secretly record the mayor.
Several times over the next year, Cannon asked agents for an apartment key.
“Immediately after receiving the electronic key fob to access the (undercover) Apartment building, CANNON provided (the undercover agent) with the contact information for a City department head and told the (agent) that when contacting the department head to mention that he had received his/her contact information after speaking with City Manager and Mayor Cannon.
“CANNON further stated that the department head would pay ‘special attention’ to (the agent.)”
Touting his connections
In return for cash, Cannon allegedly suggested to undercover agents that he could use his contacts to sidestep “problems with the city.”
He reportedly touted his relationship with everyone from Charlotte police officers and firefighters to state Sen. Bob Rucho and Gov. Pat McCrory. He even allegedly said that he could use his access to officials in Congress and the White House.
• At a December 2013 meeting, Cannon met with an undercover agent who was posing as a developer:
“Cannon: So, you know, Friday I’m meeting with the President. Well, first I’m meeting with the (Cabinet) Secretaries, all the Secretaries and then I’ll be meeting with the President and the President will be asking what my priorities are. I’m gonna say the Gold LYNX Line’s a priority and I want to see that through.”
The undercover agent later said to Cannon: “Good for you. You know, you haven’t even hit the pinnacle of your politcial career yet … . It will be fun to watch you the next 10, 15, 20 years. Watch where you go.”
When discussing the undercover agent’s projects, Cannon said he would speak with “building inspectors, the Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, the County Manager, and the head inspector over building standards.”
“So, uh, I have a pretty good tie-in, I mean, being around for 20 years has helped me a little bit I think. I’ve gone through probably four police chiefs, five city managers, three mayors, something like that,” said Cannon to undercover agents.”
• At a December 2013 meeting, “CANNON then told (the undercover agent) that he was very close with North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory – a former Mayor of Charlotte. Shortly thereafter, CANNON placed a call to the Charlotte City Manager, in the presence of (the agent).”
“When pressed about the probable timing of the Gold Line construction, CANNON responded ‘It will happen in my administration.’ CANNON stated, “You know who you need to talk to. I got the City Manager working in the right place. He’s working ... trying to get it
Where did the money go?
“A review of CANNON’s personal bank accounts at BB&T and Wells Fargo, for April 2007 through December 2013 show over 40 cash deposits totaling $40,983.15. All cash deposits are under $10,000; 19 are $500 or more. CANNON deposited $16,000 in cash in 2013. The largest cash deposit in the amount of $8,800 is made on July 18, 2013 – within a day of his receipt of $10,000 cash from (an undercover agent.)”
“A cash deposit over $10,000 requires that the financial institution generate a Currency Transaction Report.”
Compiled by Ames Alexander, Gavin Off