Mysteries of the Cannon affidavit

Staff reportsMarch 27, 2014 

The FBI’s 42-page affidavit contains detailed allegations against former Mayor Patrick Cannon – but some references remain a mystery.

Among them:

What sparked the probe?

“A local law enforcement officer was working in an undercover capacity on another criminal matter and learned of information that would be helpful to the FBI regarding public corruption.”

Who were the business figures?

•  “The local undercover officer introduced an FBI undercover employee to certain business figures in Charlotte.”

•  During 2012 and January 2013, a “local businessman” drove around with Cannon and an undercover agent to look at possible locations for a nightclub or bar, and had “numerous” conversations. The affidavit says Cannon outlined his ability to influence a broad range of areas in local government, from construction permits to alcohol licensing.

•  In a meeting last fall in which Cannon describes his connections to the White House and other leaders, Cannon offers to connect undercover agents to a “prominent Charlotte developer” whose name and company are withheld in the affidavit. The developer owns a lot of real estate on the streetcar line.

Which city departments and employees were allegedly under Cannon’s influence?

•  “Cannon described his relationship with, and influence over, certain City departments and employees.” He mentions fire, police, planning and zoning, inspections, alcohol licensing, and top leaders in both the city and county.

•  Cannon made a telephone call to a zoning official while in the presence of an undercover agent, instructing the official to call the other agent. This call was placed at a meeting in which Cannon allegedly accepted a $10,000 payment for lying to potential investors.

•  “Cannon provided (an undercover agent) with the contact information for a City department head. ... Cannon further stated that the department head would pay ‘special attention’ to (the undercover agent.)”

•  The affidavit alleges Cannon “stated his willingness to use his official position to intervene” in city business and says he made the following comment: “I get in my car and go on down to the Inspections building and I talk to the supervisor, ‘I gotta get you to open this today.’ 

Did Cannon influence a prior project?

“Cannon alluded to a prior instance wherein he assisted and intervened in a major project – using his official position – on behalf of prominent local businessman (sic).” The affidavit says an agent found evidence to support Cannon’s claim but then does not give details, citing “ongoing investigative reasons.”

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