A Grand Jury in Raleigh, North Carolina indicted the man at the center of an absentee ballot harvesting scheme in the state’s 9th Congressional District.
Leslie McCrae Dowless has been indicted on three counts felonious obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and two counts of possession of absentee ballots.
A secure bond of $30,000 was set for Dowless and the next court date is set for today, February 28.
Dowless was arrested by State Bureau of Investigation Agents in Bladensboro on Wednesday, not long after the indictment was made public.
The Grand Jury indictment says Dowless illegally took the ballots of, but not limited to, Mary Alice Davis, Sondra Kaye Deaver, and Jabril Baker.
The indictment document states that Dowless “unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously, did with deceit and intent to defraud, obstruct public and legal justice” by turning in ballots in such a way as to make it seem like the process had been legal.
The indictment document states Dowless did “unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously, conspire with others” whom the indictment names as Kelly Hendrix and Rebecca Thompson. Both women testified during the evidentiary hearings held by the North Carolina State Board of Elections in Raleigh.
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Dowless is not the only one being charged in the case.
Caitlyn E. Croom, Matthew Monroe Mathis, Tonia Gordon, and Rebecca Thompson are each being charged with one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and one count of possession of absentee ballots.
Mathis has been charged with an additional two counts of falsely signing a voter certification on an absentee ballot.
Both Croom and Mathis were employees of Dowless, according to state election investigators.
Croom and Mathis told investigators that they were paid by Dowless half of the money promised to them when they got voters to request an absentee mail ballot. Upon returning the ballots back to Dowless, he would then pay them the rest of the money.
Lisa Britt, Dowless’ step-daughter who testified for several hours during the hearings, has not yet been charged.
On day one of the hearings, Britt testified that Dowless paid her and others to collect absentee ballots and that, at the time, she did not know that these activities were illegal. She also admitted to a past felony conviction that would have barred her from voting in 2018, yet she still voted.
Britt testified that she was paid based on the total number of people she registered for absentee ballot request forms. For every 50, she and her partners would be paid between roughly $150 and $175. Britt named others who harvested ballots for Dowless as Jennifer Boyd, Tracy Cook, Ginger Eason, Jim Singletary, and Woody Hester.
Britt testified that Dowless’ team would fill in ballots if they were unsealed and races were left blank. Britt said she would vote Republican on the blank races. Later, Britt would testify on this matter again and said they “were doing what we were paid to do.”
Britt also dropped a bombshell and stated that Dowless had told her what to say in her testimony before the NCSBE. She said Dowless had given her a note with a script that included “taking the 5th.”
“I can tell you that I haven’t done anything wrong in the election and McCrae has never told me to do anything wrong, and to my knowledge, he has never done anything wrong but I am taking the 5th Amendment because I don’t have an attorney and I feel like you will try to trip me up. I am taking the 5th Amendment,” she said.
When asked about the note, Dowless’ attorney Cynthia Singletary’s said she didn’t know her client gave Britt the letter. Singletary also said she was surprised by Britt’s testimony and said that Dowless “could only support Britt and her kids for so long.”
Britt called Dowless a “father figure” and stated multiple times she did not believe that Mark Harris knew any wrongdoing was going on.
“I think he was completely clueless about what was going on,” Britt said.
Near the end of the fourth day of the hearing, Harris shocked those in attendance by announcing he felt a new election was needed. After making the announcement, Harris left the venue with his team. The NCSBE voted shortly afterward to hold a new election.
On February 26, Harris said he would not be filing for the new primary and election ordered by the NCSBE for the 9th Congressional district.
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