Patrick Cannon, who rose from public housing to become mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina's largest city, was arrested yesterday by the FBI and accused of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes – including $20,000 in cash delivered in a briefcase last month to the mayor's office, the Charlotte Observer reports. Cannon, 49, a Democrat who took office four months ago, was scheduled to show up at a luxury apartment for another payoff from what he thought were businessmen needing his influence in city matters.
After arriving, Cannon learned they really were undercover FBI agents who'd been recording their meetings over the past three years, long before he launched a campaign for mayor in 2013. Cannon resigned as mayor last night, capping a day that included allegations of an illicit trip to Las Vegas and payoff negotiations at a steakhouse that figured in the region's last major political scandal. Cannon was charged with theft and bribery, accused of taking cash payoffs at least five times. Historian Jack Claiborne said such corruption charges are unprecedented in the city's history. In 2011, FBI agents began an “American Hustle”-type operation against Cannon, beginning with a meeting with an undercover agent passing himself off as business manager for a venture capital company based in Chicago.