Official reports show that one of North Carolina's top politicians has been arrested on federal charges including bribery, wire fraud and theft. The mayor of Charlotte, Patrick Cannon, has been accused of federal crimes that could lead to a 50-year prison term, according to courtroom documents. Cannon has been released on bond, but criminal charges are still pending in the matter.
The man is accused of taking bribes in exchange for favors provided through the mayor's office. Officials estimate that the man had accepted more than $48,000 in outright bribes, along with additional perks such as airline tickets and lodging. That alleged offense occurred in February 2014. Authorities accuse the man of accepting bribes starting in January 2013. The man was arrested after allegedly accepting a bribe from federal agents who were pretending to be commercial real estate developers.
Cannon has been active in the city government of Charlotte since he first became a city council member in 1993. Although he has been arrested and charged with federal crimes, city council members say they do not intend to remove Cannon from office, as that power is not granted through state procedures. He will continue to serve as mayor unless he voluntarily steps down or is convicted of the federal crimes.
High-profile criminal defendants deserve to have their rights protected in court, as does the everyman. Criminal defense attorneys in North Carolina may provide assistance to politicians and other high-profile defendants, helping them understand more about their legal rights and options. An arrest for federal charges certainly does not mean that the defendant is automatically considered guilty. A criminal defense attorney may serve as a critical advocate for high-profile defendants who are facing federal prosecution.
Source: Reuters, "North Carolina mayor arrested on federal public corruption charges" Emily Harris, Mar. 26, 2014