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Former Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Will Plead Guilty To Fraud

Patrick Cannon, shown here in 2013, is expected to plead guilty Tuesday in a public corruption case.
Chuck Burton

Former Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Patrick Cannon is expected to plead guilty to a corruption charge in federal court on Tuesday.

Cannon, who was elected to the post last November, resigned in March hours after being arrested.

He was originally charged on three counts of accepting bribes from undercover officers over a four-year period, both as mayor and as a member of the City Council. According to a document released Monday by the U.S. attorney's office in Charlotte, Cannon will plead guilty to a single charge of fraud.

Cannon will be sentenced at a later date. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Cannon was originally accused of having accepted $48,000 in cash and gifts. The new document increases that amount to $50,000.

Prosecutors say Cannon accepted an additional $2,000 from the owner of a strip club to influence city agencies to make it easier for the nightspot, known as Twin Peeks, to stay in business.

"It's a small amount compared to the total, but it also shows a pattern of trading political influence for cash, outside anything the FBI may have convinced him to do," member station WFAE reports.

Cannon accepted his last bribe in February. "In what was clearly the zenith of the federal case, the FBI says Cannon accepted $20,000 in the mayor's office, then solicited an undercover agent for more than $1 million in additional kickbacks," the Charlotte Observer reports.

It's common for charges to be dropped in public corruption cases where there is a guilty plea. Cannon, who signed a plea agreement on May 8, pledged to cooperate with the ongoing federal investigation into city and county governments.

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Alan Greenblatt has been covering politics and government in Washington and around the country for 20 years. He came to NPR as a digital reporter in 2010, writing about a wide range of topics, including elections, housing economics, natural disasters and same-sex marriage.
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