Recently released three warrants in the North Carolina 9th Congressional district absentee ballot investigation show the FBI activity, including surveillance and bank searches prior to the 2018 election.
Three warrants were executed; one in December 2018 and two in January 2019. Phone, text and bank records and were the main target of the warrants.
Affidavits attached to the warrants contained interviews with multiple associates of Leslie McCrae Dowless, the man at the center of the absentee ballot investigation. The affidavits show that between October and December of 2018, agents with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) had contact with Kelly Hendrix, Caitlyn Croom, Tonia Gordon, and Matthew Mathis.
In the attached documents for phone records, a statement was included that showed FBI Special Agent James Kaylor and SBE Agent Faircloth had interviewed Tonia Gordon in Bladen County on Oct. 17, 2018. The statement indicates Gordon told them Dowless would give her blank absentee ballots to have people fill out and he would pay her $5.00 each one she returned to him.
Both the SBI and the FBI were surveilling Dowless on May 3, 2018, according to the warrants. The primary for the 9th district was just five days later on May 8.
Over the course of the day on May 3, 2018, agents from the FBI and SBE witnessed Dowless get cash from two ATM’s. Individuals would meet with Dowless a short time after the withdrawals and were observed returning to the same ATM’s to make their own transactions.
Wells Fargo bank and the North Carolina State Employees Credit Union (NCSECU) were listed in the warrants. Specific dates and transaction times for two NCSECU ATM locations in Elizabethtown and Bladensboro were listed in the December 2018 warrant application.
The Jan. 17th, 2019 warrant application asks for Wells Fargo Bank records for ‘Patriots for Progress’ from a Garner location. Patriot’s Progress is a political action committee set up and run by Dowless.
Dowless’ attorney Cynthia Singletary responded regarding her client’s banking habits.
“I will go on record on behalf of Mr. Dowless to say he DOES NOT have a checking account, and there has certainly been no checking account located in his name,” said Singletary. “He told me that he learned his lesson many years ago that he never wanted a checking account again in his life after an ex-wife cleaned out his bank account.”
“Mr. Dowless visited this CashPoints ATM on numerous occasions to get cash from his Disability card that is provided by the U.S. Social Security Administration once a month. He has been receiving his disability for the past 7 years after he had a massive heart attack, from which he nearly died,” Singletary said.
A second January warrant was for phone records and text messages associated with the cell phone number belonging to Leslie McCrae Dowless between the dates of Jan. 1, 2016, and Jan. 15, 2019. The warrant asked for all voicemails “as far back as this data is kept.”
In addition to the release of the warrants, the Public Integrity Section of the United States Department of Justice has issued subpoenas to the state’s board of election requesting “all documents related to the investigation of election irregularities affecting counties within the 9th Congressional District.”
The Public Integrity Section (PIN) has “exclusive jurisdiction over allegations of criminal misconduct on the part of federal judges and also supervises the nationwide investigation and prosecution of election crimes.”
Five people have been arrested so far, including Dowless, in the 9th Congressional criminal case.
A new primary and election have been ordered for the 9th Congressional district and candidate filing closed on Friday, March 15th. Democrat Dan McCready has filed to run again, but Republican Mark Harris who won the race the first time around has bowed out due to health issues.
One Libertarian, one Green party candidate and ten Republicans have filed, including North Carolina state house Senator Dan Bishop and Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing.
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