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Fifth arrest made in election fraud investigation

By Erin Smith

A fifth individual has been arrested following an investigation into election fraud in Bladen County.  The arrests are the result of a lengthy investigation into absentee ballot irregularities in Bladen County.

Rebecca D. Thompson was arrested on Thursday evening after turning herself in at the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office. Thompson has been charged with conspiracy to commit felonious obstruction of justice and possession of absentee ballot, according to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NC SBI).

Thompson was indicted last week along with Caitlyn Croom, Matthew Monroe Mathis, Tonia Marie Gordon, and McCrae Dowless. The indictments were handed down by a Wake County Grand Jury following an investigation into election fraud in Bladen County that was conducted by the NC State Board of Elections and the NC SBI.

Matthew Monroe Mathis was arrested in Sampson County on Tuesday night and Tonia Marie Gordon turned herself in at the Bladen County Magistrates Office on Tuesday, according to the NC SBI. Caitlyn Croom was arrested in New Hanover County on Sunday night.

Dowless was arrested by the NC SBI on Wednesday, February 27, and placed in the Wake County Detention Center under a $30,000 secured bond. He was bonded out on Thursday, February 28, by Bladen County Commissioner Ray Britt who delivered the bond check “on behalf of others.” Dowless is scheduled to appear in Wake County Superior Court on Monday, March 25, 2019.

The NC State Board of Elections conducted an evidentiary hearing in February into the matter. In testimony before the NC State Board of Elections, it was revealed that Dowless’ efforts in support of Republican candidate Mark Harris’ campaign included a “ballot harvesting” operation. Dowless and those who worked with him are alleged to have collected absentee ballots from Bladen County residents and offered to mail them for the voters. They are also alleged to have witnessed numerous absentee ballots and to have turned in hundreds of absentee ballots to the Bladen County Board of Elections.

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