Central figure in election fraud investigation indicted on seven charges

McCrae Dowless bonds out of jail
Dowless attending the North Carolina State Board of Elections' election fraud hearing in...
Dowless attending the North Carolina State Board of Elections' election fraud hearing in Raleigh last week. (Source: Pool)
Updated: Feb. 27, 2019 at 12:22 PM EST
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WAKE COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The central figure in the investigation into absentee ballot irregularities in the NC District 9 general election has been indicted on multiple charges.

McCrae Dowless has been charged with three counts of felonious obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and two counts of possession of absentee ballot in Wake County.

McCrae Dowless (Source: Wake County Detention Center)
McCrae Dowless (Source: Wake County Detention Center)

Agents with the State Bureau of Investigation arrested Dowless without incident in Bladenboro on Wednesday. He was brought to the Wake County Detention Center and booked under a $30,000 secured bond. Dowless was ordered to have no contact with anyone named in the indictments.

Dowless bonded out of jail Thursday. He’s scheduled to appear in Wake County Superior Court on Monday, March 25.

Caitlyn E. Croom, Matthew Monroe Mathis, Tonia Gordon and Rebecca Thompson also were charged.

You can read the full indictments at the bottom of this article.

According to the Wake County District Attorney’s Office, the charges stem from the 2016 general election and the 2018 primary election. The investigation into the 2018 general election is ongoing.

“These indictments should serve as a stern warning to anyone trying to defraud elections in North Carolina,” said Kim Strach, State Board executive director, in a statement released after the indictments were announced. “Today is a new and better day for elections in our state.”

Dowless was the central figure in the North Carolina State Board of Elections’ investigation into the NC District 9 Congressional District.

Republican Mark Harris held a 905-vote lead over Dan McCready after the general election.

The NCSBE unanimously voted to hold new elections in the 9th district race after a four-day hearing last week.

The indictments state in part that Dowless “directed individuals to collect absentee ballots from voters, at times instructed individuals to sign certificates indicating they had witnessed the voter vote and properly execute the absentee ballot when they had not, and mailed or instructed others to mail the absentee ballot in such a manner to conceal the fact the voter had not personally mailed it himself.”

During the NCSBE hearing, Harris was asked about two checks he had written to Patriots for Progress, a political action committee founded by Dowless.

Harris testified the checks were a “deposit” to secure Dowless’ services because Harris was concerned another candidate might hire Dowless while he mulled over his 2018 run.

McCready’s campaign released a statement Wednesday afternoon in response to the arrests:

“Today’s indictment is an important first step in sending a clear message to all those involved in the historic election fraud in our district. If you cheat, if you attack our democracy, if you silence voices, if you steal votes, you will face the full force of justice. Every voter in North Carolina deserves a continued and complete investigation, one that holds every operative, candidate and party leader responsible for their actions.”

The N.C. State Board of Elections will meet on Monday, March 4 to set a date for the new election that will be held in the 9th district.

The full indictments can be seen below:

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