McCrae Dowless pleads guilty to profit fraud


McCrae Dowless (Photo: Wake County Sheriff’s Office)

GREENVILLE, NC (WWAY) – A key figure in a North Carolina investigation into electoral fraud in a congressional race has pleaded guilty to federal charges involving Social Security benefits.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh said Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. of Bladenboro argued in federal court in Greenville on Monday.

According to court documents, Dowless, 65, defrauded the Social Security Administration by hiding his job and income while receiving monthly benefits.

In February 2013, Dowless applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. In the request, Dowless claimed he was unable to work due to a disability.

Dowless received SSI benefits until July 2018, when he applied for Retirement Insurance Benefits (RIB). In his RIB application, Dowless said he did not expect to work in 2018 and had not worked in the two years prior to his application. Dowless received RIB benefits until November 2018.

Dowless was required to report certain events to the Social Security Administration, including changes in its business activity, income or resources.

Unbeknownst to the Social Security Administration, Dowless worked as a consultant for at least two political campaigns in the 2018 midterm elections.

From March 2017 to November 2018, Dowless received at least 59 checks totaling $ 135,365.57 for consulting work.

Dowless failed to report his work and income to the Social Security Administration.

The charges carry a combined maximum sentence of 15 years.

Dowless still faces state charges regarding the 2016 and 2018 elections.

He is accused of ordering people to collect incomplete mail-in ballots in a congressional race and pretending voters finished them.

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