Former mayor Patrick Cannon pleads guilty to voter fraud
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Former Charlotte mayor Patrick Cannon pleaded guilty to attempted voter fraud in Mecklenburg County court Wednesday morning. The charge stems from a vote Cannon cast in 2014, when he was a convicted felon.
The judge found Cannon guilty of voter fraud. Cannon will serve one day in jail, which will run concurrent to his federal time served.
He is currently serving a 44-month prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to accepting more than $50,000 from undercover agents while serving as Charlotte's mayor.
Cannon signed a plea agreement to a lesser charge of attempting voter fraud, a Class 1 misdemeanor charge. The charge for attempted voter fraud carries a maximum of 120 days in prison.
"We felt like that was appropriate under the circumstances," said Assistant District Attorney, Reed Hunt. "He was very forthright. He admitted what he did. He faced some consequences from the federal court and his vote didn't count."
Cannon's court appearance Wednesday didn't last long. During the hearing, he offered a brief statement. "I want to thank you for the opportunity," Cannon told the judge. "I hate to come here under these circumstances, but I want to apologize to the court for doing so, but I want to thank the court for indulging me in this process."
Cannon was transported from federal prison in West Virginia to Mecklenburg County ahead of his court appearance. He will go back to West Virginia within the next couple of days.
A grand jury indicted Cannon in February 2015 for illegal voting after he was accused of illegally casting an absentee ballot in October for the November 2014 general election. In June 2014, Cannon pleaded guilty to one count of honest services wire fraud. As a convicted felon, Cannon was not allowed to vote.
After the crime occurred, Cannon was apologetic and offered an explanation.
"I was just going in and not quite frankly thinking about what I was doing at that particular time," Cannon told reporters. "I did it without a level of really thinking at that time."
His explanation didn't sit well with the State.
In a previous court appearance, Judge Frank Whitney referred to Cannon as a "sophisticated voter" and said that, "If anyone should have known, he should have known."
While Cannon's attorney, James Ferguson, was not available for comment, Ferguson has previously spoken to WBTV on the matter.
"Patrick Cannon gave, to the federal judge, a full account of what took place. He apologized to the court. He apologized to the public and he acknowledged that he made a mistake and that he voted inadvertently," Ferguson said.
Cannon is scheduled to be released from a federal prison in January 2017.
Cannon resigned from his position as Charlotte mayor in late March 2014, nearly eight hours after he was arrested by the FBI.
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