Former Cannon aide speaks out after connected to FBI investigati - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Former Cannon aide speaks out after connected to FBI investigation

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

A former campaign aide for former Charlotte mayor Patrick Cannon is speaking out after reports that she was connected to the federal corruption scandal that forced Cannon to resign.

Patrick Cannon was arrested by the FBI on March 26 on federal corruption charges and resigned as mayor of Charlotte eight hours later.

The search warrant served at the mayor's office after his arrest along with the affidavit outlining undercover FBI agents investigation has brought a new name to light.

Amani Abdul's name was mentioned in the search warrant after investigators took a printed email from her to Cannon's scheduling assistant as part of their evidence.

Abdul, a former campaign aide, released a statement on Thursday saying she had no involvement with the FBI's investigation or Cannon's arrest.

"I have done nothing wrong or illegal and have not been contacted by the FBI or any other law enforcement agency with regards to this matter. However, if approached by the FBI or The United States Attorney's office I will cooperate fully and completely."

According to an affidavit filed in the case, the FBI's investigation into Cannon started in 2011.

After dealing with an undercover agent for an extended period of time, Cannon was introduced to a second agent who he believed was a real estate developer from Las Vegas attempting to secure major investment from a group of foreign investors to build a mixed use commercial development in Charlotte.

He met the undercover agent two days after he formally announced his intention to run for mayor of Charlotte.

The agent told Cannon that he had foreign investors who were interested in development opportunities along the Blue Line and Gold Line of Charlotte's transportation system.  The group was reportedly interested in mixed use developments that would support residential and retail business.

The undercover agent paid to have Cannon travel to Las Vegas in July 2013 to meet with his group of investors, according to the affidavit.

Three days after winning the Democratic Party primary and becoming the Democratic candidate for mayor, Cannon met with the agent in an undercover upscale apartment in South Park to discuss "a number of development opportunities along the CATS Gold and Blue lines."

This was not Cannon's first visit to the apartment and he requested to get a copy of the key to use the apartment for his personal use. It was the fifth time he'd asked for the key since March 17, 2013.

According to the affidavit, at some point between September and December Cannon recommended that the agent contact one of his campaign aides, who he said was a real estate broker.

"In reality, the campaign aide was not yet licensed in North Carolina, so he/she in turn recommended that [the undercover agent] work with him/her and a licensed broker," the affidavit stated.

The undercover agent believed Cannon was attempting to persuade him to hire his campaign aide.

This week, Abdul was reported to be the aide mentioned in the affidavit.

The FBI pulled phone records which reportedly showed that "Cannon and the campaign aide had numerous daily contacts via text message and telephone calls."

According to the affidavit, the campaign aide sent the undercover agent a text message "on behalf on Cannon" requesting a key to the apartment. This was the sixth request to get a key to the South Park apartment.

Cannon was given a key to the apartment on December 11, 2013. This was exactly one week after he was sworn in as the mayor of Charlotte.

"Aww, man. I got a key," Cannon reportedly said to the agent who agreed to keep paying the $2,100 a month for Cannon to use the apartment.

Cannon was seen using the apartment twice after he was given a key. The affidavit does not chronicle when Cannon used the apartment.

"I was never in the South Park apartment mentioned in the FBI affidavit or any other South Park apartment for that matter," Abdul said in a statement released on her blog. "Nor was I romantically involved with Mr. Cannon."

After he was arrested, a search warrant was served on the mayor's office in uptown Charlotte, his business E-Z Parking and Cannon's home.

The warrant shows investigators took several items from the mayor's office, including a printed email from Abdul to Peggy Huffman, who is listed on the City of Charlotte's website as the Mayor's Scheduler.  The email was dated February 19 at 2:05 p.m. and was found in a filing cabinet.

The only other mention of February 19, 2014 in the 42-page affidavit is a voicemail left by Cannon's assistant to confirm an appointment between Cannon and one of the foreign investors that he met while in Las Vegas earlier in the year. 

The meeting held two days in the mayor's office.

"The email in question was listed as part of a search warrant list of items retrieved by the FBI and is the property of the FBI," Abdul said in her statement. "I will respect their investigation but will be available to discuss once the investigation is concluded."

Abdul concludes by asking for respect for her personal and professional life and privacy.

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