ELIZABETHTOWN, N.C. (WBTV) - McCrae Dowless, a Bladen County man at the center of the election fraud controversy in the 9th Congressional District, has been indicted by a federal grand jury.
Dowless was indicted on four federal counts related to collecting social security benefits while earning income from political campaigns. He faces two counts of social security fraud and one count each of theft of government property and making false statements.
Dowless was previously indicted on two sets of state charges related to election fraud allegations, which he pleaded not guilty to.
According to the indictment, Dowless applied for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) citing a disability condition with a December 27 onset date. Dowless was approved for SSI benefits on April 30 for his alleged disability.
The indictment claims Dowless was notified on April 18 that he had been overpaid by $5,217.68 in SSI benefits because he received $5,258 in wages and unearned income between January and February 2014, which would’ve made Dowless ineligible for the payments he received for those months. Dowless claimed he didn’t receive any income aside from his SSI benefits, the indictment states, and so he continued to receive SSI benefits until November 2018.
After Dowless turned 62, he applied for RIB (Retirement Insurance Benefits) and claimed he had not worked for the past two years, the indictment states. But Dowless worked for at least two candidates during the 2018 Midterm Election.
“Specifically, between in or around April 2017, and in or around May 2017, Dowless received approximately $3,300.00 in payments for his work,” the indictment states. “Between in or around August 2017, and in or around November 2018, Dowless received approximately $132,365.57 in payments.”
When Dowless applied for RIB, he had received $63,984.57 in payments between January 2018 and June 2018, the indictment claims. In total, the Social Security agency issued around $14,203 in unauthorized payments to Dowless.
The indictment states 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."
Dowless is accused of intentionally concealing his work and earnings from the SSA in order to receive payments that he was not eligible for. Prosecutors also asked that he be forced to forfeit any property derived from proceeds traceable to the violation.
In August 2019, Dowless and others indicted on charges related to election fraud turned themselves in to a magistrate in Bladen County.
Dowless and five others were indicted by a Wake County grand jury on charges largely related to alleged fraud in the 2018 election.
Dowless was indicted the previous February on charges related to alleged election fraud in the 2016 general election and 2018 primary election.
Dowless is set to appear before a federal judge in mid-May.