McCrae Dowless, Accused Of Absentee Ballot Scheme, Nabbed For Alleged Disability Scam

FILE - In this Dec. 5, 2018, file photo, Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr., poses for a portrait outside his home in Bladenboro, N.C. State investigators have described Dowless as a “person of interest” in their probe in... FILE - In this Dec. 5, 2018, file photo, Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr., poses for a portrait outside his home in Bladenboro, N.C. State investigators have described Dowless as a “person of interest” in their probe into 2018 voting irregularities involving absentee ballots. (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP, File) MORE LESS
April 21, 2020 4:51 p.m.

McCrae Dowless, the man allegedly behind a 2018 North Carolina absentee ballot scheme, has been once again indicted, this time for allegedly defrauding the Social Security Administration.

He was also indicted last year on state charges, including two counts of felony obstruction of justice and perjury related to an absentee ballot fraud scheme, which he allegedly orchestrated to bolster the candidacy of Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris in North Carolina’s ninth district.

The new indictment involves Social Security disability fraud Dowless was allegedly committing at the same time.

While he was working on 2018 midterm campaigns, including Harris’, he was also pocketing $14,203 in disability checks and retirement insurance benefits, the indictment said.

He initially filed for disability benefits in 2013, and got a re-determination of those benefits in 2016, during which he claimed that he remained disabled and brought in no income besides his social security checks, according to the indictment. He received those payments through November 2018. In July 2018, he also applied for retirement benefits from the SSA.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the SSA, Dowless allegedly raked in $132,365.57 from his work as a political operative.

The indictment specifically alleges that Dowless had earned $63,984.57 by the time he filed for the retirement benefits.

The new indictment contains four counts. Dowless is being charged with “willfully embezzling, stealing, purloining and converting to his own use” money belonging to the United States over $1,000, concealing his work and earnings from the SSA and making fraudulent statements on his retirement benefits application.

The SSA is now seeking to be reimbursed for the $14,203 of “unauthorized payments” through seizure of Dowless’ money or property.

The new indictment, filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina, is just the latest of Dowless’ woes.

He has been hit with two different sets of election fraud charges, first stemming from the 2016 general election and 2018 primary, then related to the 2018 general election.

Dowless was accused of harvesting absentee ballots, changing up the ink and signatures to make them look legitimate and “batching” them, or submitting small groups at a time, according to the state Board of Elections.

The Harris campaign’s absentee ballot scheme broke onto the national stage in February of 2019, when the North Carolina Board of Elections held hearings to determine the legitimacy of the election between Harris and Democrat Dan McCready. The board ultimately determined that the election was “tainted” and “corrupted” by the fraud and ordered a new one.

Dowless is scheduled to appear before a federal judge in mid-May, per a local report.

Read the newest indictment here:

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