McCrae Dowless pleads guilty to federal unemployment fraud charges

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: Jun. 21, 2021 at 1:20 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WBTV) - McCrae Dowless, the political operative at the center of the 9th Congressional District scandal in 2018, pleaded guilty at a federal court hearing Monday afternoon, court records show.

Dowless pleaded guilty to one count each of theft of government property and social security fraud. Two other charges included in the indictment will be dismissed.

The charges, handed down in April 2020, stem from Dowless collecting social security benefits while earning income from political campaigns.


At the time of the indictment prosecutors alleged Dowless “did knowingly, intentionally and willfully embezzle, steal, purloin and convert to his own use and the use of another, on a recurring basis, money belonging to the United States exceeding the sum of $1,000, to which he knew he was not entitled.”

RELATED: McCrae Dowless, associates face new charges in NC-9 election fraud investigation | FULL COVERAGE: Click here to read all of WBTV’s coverage of the NC-9 investigation

Dowless is accused of intentionally concealing his work and earnings from the SSA in order to receive payments that he was not eligible for.

The federal charges are separate from charges brought by state prosecutors against Dowless, alleging he committed a range of crimes involving election fraud in the 2016 and 2018 elections. Those charges remain pending in Wake County.

After Dowless’ guilty plea Monday, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said she had been waiting for the federal charges to be resolved and she anticipated a hearing in the state case in July.

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