Man at center of District 9 election scandal sentenced to 6 months for Social Security fraud

BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. — The man at the center of the District 9 election scandal was sentenced to prison Thursday for collecting disability while being paid for working on campaigns in 2018.

According to officials, Leslie McCrae Dowless, 65, will spend 6 months behind bars for the theft of government property and Social Security fraud. He will also have to pay $8,599.10 in restitution.

According to court documents, Dowless defrauded the Social Security Administration by concealing his work and income while receiving monthly benefits payments.

In February 2013, Dowless applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. In the application, Dowless claimed that he was unable to work due to a disability. Dowless received SSI benefits until July 2018, when he applied for Retirement Insurance Benefits (RIB). In his application for RIB, Dowless stated that he did not expect to work in 2018 and had not worked in the two years preceding his application. Dowless received RIB benefits through November 2018.

Dowless was required to report certain events to the Social Security Administration, including changes in his work activity, income, or resources.

Unbeknownst to the Social Security Administration, Dowless worked as a consultant for at least two political campaigns during the 2018 Midterm Elections. Documents state that from March 2017 to November 2018, Dowless received at least 59 checks totaling $135,365.57 for consulting work. Dowless failed to report his work and income to the Social Security Administration.

He is still facing additional charges related to election fraud.