Disappointment in Charlotte as a Once Promising Mayor Plans Guilty Plea

Former Mayor Patrick Cannon is expected to plead guilty to corruption and the city’s Black community feels a sense of betrayal.

Posted: 06/02/2014 02:15 PM EDT

As former Charlotte mayor, Patrick Cannon was expected to plead guilty to a charge of public corruption, many in that city’s African-American community say they feel deeply disappointed by the man who they contend once had such a promising career in politics.

Indeed, Cannon was once seen as a wunderkind of Black politics in Charlotte, having been elected to the City Council in 1993 when he was 26 years old, the youngest member of the council in the city’s history.

After taking office as mayor in 2013, he served barely three months when he was arrested on charges of accepting over $48,000 in bribes from undercover FBI agents posing as businessmen wanting to work with the city. Cannon resigned as mayor in March.

“I think there is a widespread feeling of betrayal regarding Patrick Cannon,” said Carlos D. Watson, a lawyer in Charlotte, in an interview with BET.com.

“People felt that he had an extremely promising career, inside and outside of politics,” Watson said. “He was considered a native son in every sense of the word. It’s very, very disappointing.”

According to papers filed at the United States District Court in Charlotte on Monday, Cannon has decided to enter a plea of guilty to one count of fraud. If convicted, Cannon could serve up to 20 years in prison and could be forced to pay a fine of $250,000. The former mayor is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.

“There is great sadness about what’s happened to him because he was a trusted person, in the sense that he was elected as our mayor,” said the Rev. Donnie Garris, the pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte, in an interview with BET.com.

“There was a level of trust and, quite naturally, of pride regarding Patrick Cannon by many people in our community,” Garris said. “And to hear what’s been alleged, people feel a big shock and they feel let down. It’s truly sad.”

Follow Jonathan Hicks on Twitter: @HicksJonathan

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(Photo: REUTERS)

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