Judge: Former Charlotte mayor under house arrest until Nov. 18
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Former Charlotte mayor Patrick Cannon was ordered by U.S. District Judge Frank Whitney to house arrest with an electronic monitor until Nov. 18, after voting in the midterm elections, violating his probation.
The order was given at the federal courthouse on Thursday just before 1:30 p.m. Following house arrest, Cannon will report to prison at FCI Morgantown, a minimal security federal correctional institution in West Virginia.
Whitney said there were 'logistic issues' with putting Cannon in custody today.
According to the Chief of US Probation, Cannon's ankle monitor will be put on Thursday when Cannon returns to his home. The monitor will allow him to stay on his property. It will be taken off on Nov. 18 when Cannon reports to FCI Morgantown for prison.
Election records show Cannon, who was recently sentenced to prison for taking bribes, cast a one-stop early voting ballot in the election. The online records show the former mayor voted on Oct. 30 at Community House Middle School.
That vote, which was officially challenged Tuesday night, violated Cannon's bond.
Cannon arrived at the federal courthouse to face Whitney, the same judge who sentenced him in his federal case.
Inside the courtroom Whitney told Cannon, "You did embarrass this community! This is round two. It's not as severe, but it's round two." Cannon apologized repeatedly, saying, "the light simply did not go off."
Prosecutors asked Whitney to put Cannon in custody immediately. The U.S. asked the judge to revoke the bond.
Whitney agreed with the U.S. that Cannon violated the bond and said that consequences would be determined. He said that Cannon is a sophisticated voter and should have known not to vote.
Attorney James Ferguson, who is representing Cannon, said to Whitney, "Your honor, please put this in context. He was not trying to do anything undercover. What do we do about it? That's what your honor needs to decide."
Around 1 p.m., Whitney started talking about the law and how it's illegal for felons to vote. He went on to say that courts need to be more clear with defendants regarding their loss of voting rights.
Ferguson referred to Cannon's actions as 'human error, an honest mistake.' He said that Cannon calls when he wants to get gas in South Carolina.
While Cannon was walking into the federal courthouse, we asked him the circulating question, "Why did you vote?" Cannon replied, "I don't want to be disrespectful to the court, so if you all will help me understand that, that would be great. Thank you so much."
When the former mayor was asked how he was holding up, he said, "The best I can, but thanks for asking."
Michael Dickerson, the county's election director, told The Charlotte Observer that he cannot remove the name of a felon convicted in federal court until the U.S. Attorney's Office tells him to.
Lia Bantavani, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office, says the USAO provides quarterly notice of federal convictions to the Chief State Election Officials of the State of North Carolina of each person convicted of a federal felony during that quarter.
"Cannon was sentenced in October and thus, the notice of his felony conviction will be reported in the 4th quarter report," Bantavani said.
"Nonetheless, Cannon was represented by counsel, knew he was convicted of a felony, was informed by the court that his conviction included the loss of some previously held rights," she continued. "And [he] had access to the information on the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Mecklenburg Board of Elections websites regarding the voting laws of North Carolina."
Cannon was arrested last March, more than four months after he was elected to his first term as mayor. He pleaded guilty to a corruption charge in June.
In mid-October, the 47-year-old Democrat was sentenced to 44 months in federal prison and a $10,000 fine. Cannon was also ordered to forfeit more than $50,000 in assets – the amount of bribes he says he accepted from the FBI and a Charlotte businessman.
Greg Forest, chief of the U.S. Probation Office in Charlotte, said Cannon lost his right to vote as early as June 3, when he pleaded guilty to a corruption charge.
Forest said at the very least, Cannon lost his right to vote Oct. 14, when he was sentenced to more than three and a half years in prison.
Wednesday morning, Cannon met with his probation officer to discuss the issue.
Cannon was expected to enter prison later this month after Whitney allowed Cannon to remain free on bond until ordered to report to federal prison.
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