Two years ago, former Mayor Patrick Cannon confessed to accepting bribes. Now, you can see him commit the crimes.
The FBI on Wednesday released portions of audio and video recordings of former Charlotte mayor Patrick Cannon accepting cash bribes from undercover agents. The agents posed as developers looking to build a large project in Charlotte. Cannon promised to help them get a property’s zoning changed in exchange for more than $48,000 in cash and gifts.
He pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges in 2014 and is serving a forty-four month sentence in a federal prison in West Virginia.
The FBI released the files as a result of Freedom of Information Act Requests filed by WFAE and other media outlets back in 2014. There’s no new information in the eight videos and three audio recordings, but they bring the words of Cannon’s indictment to life.
Several of the videos were filmed inside a $2,100-a-month apartment agents rented for Cannon, then a city councilman. In an exchange at the apartment in January 2013, the agent confirms that Cannon needs “twelve-five”...$12,500. Parts of the audio have been redacted, and the male agent’s voice is disguised to sound higher.
Cannon is sitting on a couch, the agent to his right in a chair. The agent sets the cash down on the coffee table between them. “There it is, twelve...five," he says. Cannon lets out a gleeful exclamation, puts the cash in a folder, then glances around nervously. The agent gets up and closes the blinds.
Cannon then pulls out the cash. "Let’s see," he says.
"Does it feel right?" the agent asks.
Then Cannon fans a stack of cash at the side of his face and laughs.
The next day, agents recorded a phone call with Cannon, where he expressed concern that he didn’t want to get caught, culminating in what would become an infamous line.
Cannon: In the event that something goes down, there I am smiling on TV--or not--there you are smiling on TV--or not.... I don’t want any of that.
Agent: Nobody wants that, believe me. I don't want that for you; I don't want that for me. I've never, I've never had that...
Cannon: I look good in an orange necktie, not an orange suit.
Agent: I hear ya, I hear ya.
The FBI also released video of Cannon meeting with an agent, again at the apartment, telling him who to talk to at the City about zoning. There are videos of Cannon in Las Vegas, meeting with agents posing as foreign investors. And there’s video of the agents’ visit to the mayor’s office in the government center on February 21, 2014. That’s the day Cannon accepted that brown leather Fossil briefcase containing $20,000.
He was arrested a month later.