NC political consultant pleads guilty to Social Security fraud; received $135,000 for work

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN/AP) — A North Carolina political consultant has pleaded guilty to theft of government property and Social Security fraud, officials said Monday.

Leslie McCrae Dowless, 65, of Bladenboro who was receiving Social Security payments, continued to work and concealed his income from the government, according to a news release from the United States Attorney’s Office Eastern District of North Carolina.

“In February 2013, Dowless applied for Supplemental Security Income benefits. In the application, Dowless claimed that he was unable to work due to a disability,” the news release said. “Dowless received Supplemental Security Income benefits until July 2018, when he applied for Retirement Insurance Benefits.”

But, unknown to Social Security officials, Dowless worked as a consultant for at least two political campaigns during the 2018 Midterm Elections.

“From March 2017 to November 2018, Dowless received at least 59 checks totaling $135,365.57 for consulting work,” the news release said. He did not report the work or income.

Dowless still faces state charges involving the 2016 and 2018 elections. He is accused of directing people to collect incomplete absentee ballots in a congressional race and making it appear that the voters had finished them

After Monday’s plea, Dowless faces a maximum penalty of 180 months in prison when he will be sentenced on Aug. 23.

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