Judge grants extension, delays Dowless entry to jail until after mid-term primaries



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RALEIGH – A judge delayed on Friday when the key player in a mail ballot fraud case must report to federal prison for crimes involving benefit fraud due to the accused’s health concerns .

McCrae Dowless Jr. from Bladen County was due to report to a South Carolina jail by December 1 to serve a six-month sentence, but her attorney requested that it be postponed to April 1 due to her health concerns croissants. U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle granted the extension.

Dowless, who is in his 60s, had a stroke in August and learned earlier this month that he could have lung cancer, according to a federal court case earlier this week. He needs time for follow-up medical appointments to determine his course of care, his lawyer wrote.

Boyle sentenced Dowless in early September after pleading guilty in June to obtaining illegal Social Security benefits while concealing payments for political work he did.

The counts were indirectly linked to a wider public inquiry into illegal postal voting activities for the 2016 general election and the 2018 primary and general elections – activities in which authorities have identified Dowless as the main figure.

The entry date is now after the primaries for the midterm elections. Voters in North Carolina go to the polls on March 8, making decisions on primaries for the United States Senate, United States House, North Carolina Senate and House, the State Supreme Court and the State Court of Appeal.

Dowless is charged with 13 heads of state in the case, including obstruction of justice, possession of postal ballots and perjury.

A State Electoral Council investigation into the 2018 9th Congressional District elections, when Dowless was working for then-Republican candidate Reverend Mark Harris, led the council to reject the results and order a new one. election. No charges were laid against Harris, who failed to run in the next election.

In an appearance in Wake County Superior Court on Monday, Dowless rejected a plea deal proposed by District Attorney Lorrin Freeman that would have required him to serve a year in prison, half of which would take place at the same time than his federal sentence. A judge has set a date for the trial next August.

Freeman said in court that the plea offer would remain available until November 30, likely the day before Dowless entered jail in Salters, South Carolina.

Freeman said in a phone interview on Friday night that the deadline would remain in effect. She said she could speak with Dowless’s attorney to see if a trial could now take place before her new April report date.

Dowless’s recent medical issues were conveyed during Monday’s hearing to Superior Court Judge Keith Gregory, who asked that he and Freeman be kept informed of the future.

This story is written by The Associated Press.

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