Patrick Cannon, who rose from public housing to become mayor of North Carolina’s largest city, was charged Wednesday by federal authorities who said he accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribes – including $20,000 in cash delivered in a briefcase last month to the mayor’s office in a meeting where he solicited $1 million more.
Cannon, a 49-year-old Democrat who took office only four months ago, was arrested when he showed up at a luxury apartment in SouthPark for yet another payoff from what he thought were businessmen needing his influence in city matters, a source confirmed.
But after arriving, he learned who 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 Wednesday night, capping an extraordinary day that included revelations of an illicit trip to Las Vegas and payoff negotiations at the Capital Grille – the same uptown steakhouse that figured in the region’s last major political scandal. It was there that former N.C. House speaker Jim Black of Matthews, also a Democrat, took bribes from a group of chiropractors seeking help with legislation.