Patrick Cannon, the former mayor of Charlotte, pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge and then apologized to the city he betrayed, the Charlotte Observer reports. Speaking publicly for the first time since his March 26 arrest, Cannon said, “I regret having hurt the city that I love.” The bureaucratic-sounding charge – honest services wire fraud – belies the seriousness of Cannon's crime. The 47-year-old Democrat acknowledged taking bribes and other gifts in exchange for using his political influence to help those who paid him.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Savage said Cannon, the target of a nearly four-year FBI investigation, accepted seven bribes totaling $50,500 during a 14-month period beginning in January 2013. Most of those illegal payoffs came from undercover FBI agents posing as out-of-town real estate investors. Cannon also took regular bribes from a Charlotte businessman, now identified as strip club mogul David “Slim” Baucom. In fact, prosecutors said, Cannon was a mayor and City Council member on retainer – receiving a steady stream of cash and gifts, while being paid extra when something needed to be done. Under federal sentencing guidelines, Cannon's range of sentence stands now at between 63 and 78 months in prison.