Former mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, admits to taking bribes

CHARLOTTE, N.C., June 3 Tue Jun 3, 2014 12:36pm EDT

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CHARLOTTE, N.C., June 3 (Reuters) - The former Charlotte mayor pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a federal public corruption charge that brought his arrest and resignation after a brief stint as the elected leader of North Carolina's largest city.

Patrick Cannon, who served on the Charlotte City Council before being elected mayor in November, admitted to accepting at least $50,000 in bribes in exchange for using his official positions to help people seeking to do business in the city.

Two of those businessmen were federal agents posing as real estate developers and investors. A sting that began in August 2010 led to Cannon's arrest in March on charges that he accepted cash, paid travel to Las Vegas and use of a luxury apartment from the undercover agents.

A court document unsealed on Monday also accused Cannon of taking bribes from the owner of an adult entertainment club and using his influence to help the business stay open despite being in the path of the city's new light-rail line.

Cannon was not immediately sentenced but could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for one count of honest services wire fraud.

He has agreed to pay full restitution and help in the federal investigation, attorneys said.

The former mayor, who resigned when he was arrested, asked for forgiveness in a statement he read to reporters outside the federal courthouse in Charlotte.

"Much has been given to me in the way of the public's trust," Cannon said. "I regret having acted in ways that broke that trust. For that, I am deeply sorry." (Reporting by Emily Harris; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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