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Crime & Justice

Sentencing For NC Ballot Probe Figure Dowless Delayed

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A key subject in a North Carolina ballot fraud investigation was hospitalized Wednesday, his attorney said. It delayed his sentencing on largely unrelated federal crimes that he pleaded guilty to this summer.

Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. was supposed to appear in a Raleigh courtroom Wednesday afternoon for his sentence on obtaining illegal Social Security benefits while concealing payments for political work he performed. That hearing was rescheduled until next week.

Cynthia Singletary, a Dowless attorney, told WRAL-TV that Dowless was flown by helicopter from Bladen County Hospital to a Wilmington hospital Wednesday morning “under emergency conditions.” Singletary didn't immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking more information.

Dowless still faces state charges involving balloting during the 2016 and 2018 elections.

Dowless had worked in 2017 and 2018 — the time in question for his federal charges — in part for 9th Congressional District candidate Mark Harris. Witnesses told state officials Dowless gathered absentee ballots from Bladen County voters with the help of his assistants.

Harris appeared to get the most votes in the November 2018 race, but the State Board of Elections ordered a new election.

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