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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Another meeting of the Federal Grand Jury. Another day without an indictment of Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon, arrested almost two months ago by the FBI on corruption charges.

The delays fuel speculation of behind-the-scenes plea bargaining.

If Patrick Cannon ever stands before a U.S. District Judge to be sentenced, he could use some heartfelt testimonials to beg the judge not to throw the book at him. He can probably find some of those testimonials from members of the clergy, with whom Cannon has carefully cultivated relationships.

For instance, the first weekend of 2014, the new mayor stopped by the United House of Prayer on Beatties Ford Road in Charlotte to drop off a contribution to the church in person. Bishop C.M. Sweet Daddy Bailey was visiting from Washington D.C., and Mayor Cannon made a short speech praising the bishop s work before personally dropping off an envelope with a significant contribution to the church inside. The congregation warmly applauded.

I think in his case he was giving him a gift because (Cannon) had asked him to pray for him and be successful in the election and become mayor, said Rev. Ronald Belton, himself ousted from the United House of Prayer after clashing with the powerful bishop, considered a prophet by the faithful.

The United House of Prayer was represented on the mayor's Interfaith Advisory Council - along with Elevation Church - which donated $300,000 to the city to fight homelessness.

No one is suggesting Patrick Cannon knew that mere months later he would be ousted from office and facing the real possibility of prison. But there is a clear political connection between the mayor and the mega-churches he attended and supported.

These churches represent big blocks of voters. They are led by influential preachers like Sweet Daddy Bailey and Pastor Steven Furtick, who visited Cannon in his home after he was arrested.

Preachers like Rev. Belton, who spent his entire life until recently preaching in the United House of Prayer, are accustomed to seeing a parade of politicians looking for votes.

But Patrick Cannon is beyond needing votes. He could soon need letters asking the court for leniency. It can t hurt to have the title Reverend or Bishop or even Pastor in front of the signature.

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