- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 3, 2015

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon has been indicted for election fraud because he cast a vote in the November elections after he had already pleaded guilty to corruption.

Cannon, who is currently serving more than three years in federal prison, told a federal judge in mid-November that he didn’t realize he was breaking the law when he voted. Convicted felons are not allowed to vote in North Carolina.

Cannon’s attorney, James Ferguson, questioned the purpose of Monday’s indictment.

“I’m asking myself the question that many, many people will be asking,” Ferguson said. “Patrick Cannon publicly acknowledged voting inadvertently, that it was a mistake on his part, a mistake he regretted very much. A federal judge who heard the case decided that the appropriate sanction was to place him under house arrest. So what is the purpose of this indictment under these circumstances?”

Cannon pleaded guilty last fall after prosecutors said he accepted more than $50,000 in bribes from FBI undercover agents.

Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray said his office took the voter fraud case to the grand jury after the State Board of Elections turned over the results of an investigation. The office declined further comment.

The Charlotte Observer reported (http://bit.ly/18KYH0x ) that he cast an early ballot on Oct. 30, which was considered voter fraud, a felony under state law.

Joshua Lawson, spokesman for the state Board of Elections, said the agency’s report on Cannon is part of an active criminal investigation and declined to release it to the Observer.

“Voter fraud is a felony, no matter who perpetrates it. We applaud the thorough work of the District Attorney’s Office,” Lawson said. “State Board of Elections investigators have cooperated fully with County authorities at every phase of this proceeding.”

The possible punishment for a conviction isn’t immediately clear, and neither Lawson nor Murray was available for comment Tuesday.

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