Patrick Cannon, the mayor of Charlotte, N.C., was arrested this week and charged with accepting thousands of dollars in bribe money over the course of a three-year federal sting operation.
Cannon, a 49-year-old Democrat elected to office in November, is accused of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in cash, airline tickets, hotel rooms, and the use of a luxury apartment in at least five separate meetings with undercover FBI agents, the Charlotte Observer reported.
In return, Cannon reportedly promised to use his position of power to pull strings for the undercover agents, who often posed as investors or businessmen in need of favors.
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If convicted of all the theft and bribery charges, the Charlotte mayor could face a maximum of 50 years in prison and fines of up to $1.5 million. He was released Wednesday on $25,000 unsecured bond and forced to surrender his passport, the Observer noted.
Cannon resigned as mayor late Wednesday.
"I hereby give notice of my resignation from the position of the Mayor of the City of Charlotte, effective immediately," he said in a letter sent to the city council. "In light of the charges that have been brought against me, it is my judgment that the pendency of these charges will create too much of a distraction from the business of the City to go forward smoothly and without interruption."
The sting operation reportedly began investigating Cannon closely in 2011, when he was a member of the city council. Over the course of three years, he reportedly met multiple times with undercover FBI agents who offered him cash and even a trip to Las Vegas to help them with pet projects.
At one point, according to the criminal affidavit, Cannon even boasted about the connections he had.
"Being around for 20 years has helped me a little bit, I think. I’ve gone through probably four police chiefs, five city managers, three mayors, something like that," he said, according to court documents.
The investigation came to a head in February after Cannon reportedly accepted a briefcase full of $20,000 in cash and asked for another payout of $1.25 million.
He was arrested Wednesday.
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