Crime & Courts

Surveillance videos in Cannon corruption case viewed by WBTV

Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon, center, surrounded by the media, arrives at the federal courthouse Nov. 6, 2014. Four pieces of FBI surveillance video show Cannon accepting money from undercover federal agents, WBTV said.
Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon, center, surrounded by the media, arrives at the federal courthouse Nov. 6, 2014. Four pieces of FBI surveillance video show Cannon accepting money from undercover federal agents, WBTV said. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

One year after the FBI arrested Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon on public corruption charges, WBTV got a rare glimpse at how federal investigators built their case.

The FBI has yet to release the video evidence it used to charge Cannon in the case, but Wednesday night WBTV was able to view four pieces of surveillance video that show Cannon accepting money from undercover federal agents.

Patrick Cannon resigned his position as Charlotte mayor in late March 2014, nearly eight hours after he was arrested by the FBI.

He was arrested on charges of theft and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, honest services wire fraud and extortion under color of official right.

Cannon signed the plea agreement on May 8, pleading guilty to one count of honest services wire fraud in the federal corruption case against him.

He was sentenced in September to serve 44 months in federal prison, with two years of supervised release and a $10,000 fine.

The videos shown to WBTV depict scenarios disclosed in court documents that took place in Charlotte and Las Vegas.

In the first video, Cannon was handed large amounts of cash inside a SouthPark-based apartment in Charlotte. Before accepting the money, you can see Cannon looking out the window as if to make sure no one was watching him.

He then takes the cash and covers it up with a folder on a coffee table.

The station was then shown two pieces of surveillance video shot by the FBI in Las Vegas.

Agents say Cannon believed he was meeting with a group of foreign investors, who were in fact undercover agents.

The conversation reveals a constant request from Cannon for more and more money. He was given an all-expense-paid trip to Las Vegas, but ended up asking for $1,000 more dollars in spending money for his wife.

The final piece of video, viewed by WBTV, shows Cannon accepting a bribe from an undercover agent inside the mayor’s office.

In this clip, the station said it saw a moment where Cannon appears to become nervous about the exchange.

The station said it watched as he stands up, starts to pace back and forth and clenches his fists, worried that his secretary will notice the man leaving his office without the briefcase he had when he walked in.

The video from inside the office shows Cannon trying to work out another drop-off location with the undercover agent, even suggesting he’ll meet him out by the airport to get the money.

Ultimately, Cannon decides to accept the briefcase in his office, saying to the agent, “maybe you just forgot your briefcase,” and the agent agrees.

The FBI said the release of these videos would jeopardize surveillance tactics and the undercover agents who worked on the case for nearly four years.

However, WBTV has submitted a Freedom of information Act request in an effort to obtain them.

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