By Emily Harris
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) – The mayor of North Carolina’s largest city was arrested on Wednesday on federal public corruption charges that include accepting more than $48,000 in bribes from undercover FBI agents, a U.S. attorney’s office said.
Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon, 47, is charged with theft and bribery in connection with programs receiving federal funds, wire fraud, and extortion, according to a statement by the federal prosecutor’s office for the Western District of North Carolina.
He was released on bond after his initial court appearance, the statement said. Cannon’s office declined to comment.
Cannon, a Democrat, won his first term as mayor in November. The Charlotte native has a long record of public service in his hometown, where he won his first City Council seat in 1993.
The FBI, acting on a tip, began an undercover investigation into Cannon’s actions as an elected official in August 2010, authorities said.
Cannon, in his capacity as an elected official, is accused of soliciting and accepting bribes from federal agents posing as commercial real estate developers and investors who wanted to do business in Charlotte.
Prosecutors allege that Cannon took bribes five times in exchange for the use of his official position, including most recently in February, when they said he accepted $20,000 in cash in the mayor’s office.
Between January 2013 and February 2014, prosecutors said, Cannon accepted more than $48,000 in cash, airline tickets, a hotel room and use of a luxury apartment.
Former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, tapped by President Barack Obama last year to lead the U.S. Transportation Department, said he would have no comment on his successor’s arrest.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, also a former mayor of Charlotte, said he was saddened and angry to learn of the charges against Cannon.
“This alleged behavior is inexcusable and cannot be tolerated,” the governor said in a statement.
Charlotte is the 17th largest U.S. city and hosted the 2012 Democratic party convention.
(Reporting by Emily Harris; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; editing by Gunna Dickson)