US & Canada

Ex-Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon gets 44-month sentence

Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon, center, is surrounded by media as he leaves the federal courthouse in Charlotte, North Carolina, 14 October 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Investigators said Cannon (centre) offered to help an undercover FBI agent obtain permits to open a nightclub.

The former mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for taking more than $48,000 (£30,100) in bribes.

Patrick Cannon, 47, plead guilty to one count of fraud in June.

A judge said Cannon had "seriously tarnished the city's image", as he delivered the sentence.

Cannon, who was once Charlotte's youngest elected councillor, resigned the day he was arrested in March, months after becoming mayor.

Prosecutors described him as a politician for hire who accepted cash, airline tickets, a hotel room and use of a luxury apartment in return for access to city officials.

The former mayor apologised in court after being sentenced to 44 months in a federal prison.

"I have failed as a father, I have failed as a husband, I failed as a servant leader, and I failed as a citizen," he said.

Judge Frank Whitney said Cannon was "a very good man, but you have made serious mistakes", according to the Charlotte Observer newspaper.

"This court must send a message that public corruption is unacceptable and will be severely punished."

According to the initial complaint against Cannon, the former mayor accepted payments from undercover FBI agents on five separate occasions over the course of a year, before and after he was elected mayor.

In return, he offered to connect the agents, who posed as real estate developers, to city officials responsible for planning, zoning and permitting.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Cannon was the youngest elected councilmember and served for almost two decades before winning the mayoral race in 2013

Among the allegations against him, Cannon was accused of accepting a $12,500 cash payment from an undercover agent that Mr Cannon said he planned to use to develop a feminine hygiene product called Hers.

In exchange, Cannon offered to help the agent obtain permits to open a nightclub.

The corruption investigation reportedly began in August 2010 following a tip from an undercover local police officer.

At that time, Cannon held an at-large seat on the city council of Charlotte, a major centre for the US financial industry with a population of about 775,000.

He was first elected to the city council at 26, making him the city's youngest council member.

Before his election as mayor, Cannon founded a car park company and was the long-time presenter of a radio chat show.

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