Sealed search warrants show SBI sought bank, phone records of McCrae Dowless in NC-9 investigation
RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - Two sealed search warrants filed by Wake County District Attorney Lorin Freeman and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation are providing the first clues as to the nature of the criminal investigation into allegations of election fraud in the 9th Congressional District.
The warrants show criminal investigators have sought multiple sets of records related to McCrae Dowless, a Bladen County political operative who was hired by Mark Harris to run an absentee ballot operation in Bladen, Robeson and Cumberland Counties in the 2018 election.
Freeman, who is the top local prosecutor in North Carolina’s capitol, took over the criminal investigation into voting irregularities in Bladen County in January 2018 after the Bladen County District Attorney, John David, recused himself following concerns from the North Carolina State Board of Elections that he had a potential conflict of interest.
Previously, the North Carolina State Board of Elections had referred its findings from an investigation into alleged wrongdoing in the 2016 election in Bladen County to federal prosecutors. No charges have been filed in state or federal court as a result of that referral.
Court paperwork related to the sealed search warrants shows the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation opened its investigation into the alleged election fraud in Bladen County in February 2018.
Freeman has previously said the new allegations of election fraud that surfaced after the 2018 election in Bladen County were being investigated in conjunction with the NCSBE’s referral from the 2016 allegations.
A log of sealed search warrants maintained by the Wake County Clerk of Court lists a search warrant taken out in the name of Leslie McCrae Dowless, which is Dowless’ full name. The log says the warrant was sealed in December 2018, was executed by the SBI and lists Freeman herself as the prosecutor.
A document filed requesting a judge seal the December warrant said investigators sought financial records maintained by the State Employees’ Credit Union.
The application to seal the search warrant said that the warrant should be sealed because the affidavit attached to the warrant lists the name of the person under investigation, information the application said was not publicly known. The sealed warrant is listed in the court records as being related to Dowless.
Court records show a second warrant was issued in January 2019 for cell phone records related to a phone number used by Dowless. The application to seal that warrant said the warrant was executed in February.
Like the first warrant, the clerk’s office log indicates it was executed by the SBI and Freeman is listed as the prosecuting attorney.
The application to seal the second warrant says investigators were seeking cell phone records held by the carrier associated with that number.
Freeman did not return an email seeking comment about the sealed search warrants sent nearly Friday afternoon.
Dowless’ attorney, Cynthia Adams Singletary, as previously issued a statement denying her client broke any laws. Dowless has not publicly addressed the allegations and refused to testify before the North Carolina State Board of Elections this week unless the board compelled his testimony, which would have granted him immunity from criminal prosecution under state law.
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