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Second Arrest Announced in Election Fraud Investigation

By Erin Smith

A second arrest has been made in the investigation into election fraud and absentee ballot irregularities in Bladen County.

Caitlyn Croom is the second individual to be arrested. According to the NC State Bureau of Investigation (NC SBI), she was arrested in New Hanover County on Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

Croom is charged with conspiracy to commit felony obstruction of justice and possession of an absentee ballot. She is scheduled to appear in Wake County Superior Court on Friday, March 8, 2019.

Three more arrests are expected to be made. They include Matthew Monroe Mathis, Tonia Gordon and Rebecca Thompson.

Croom, Mathis, Gordon and Thompson were indicted along with McCrae Dowless by a Wake County Grand Jury last week. 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.

Dowless is charged with three counts of felony obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiracy to commit felony obstruction of justice and two counts of possession of absentee ballots.

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 ballots to the Bladen County Board of Elections.

The NC State Board of Elections met on Monday, March 4, and set the dates for new elections in the US Congress 9th District race, the Bladen County Commissioner District 3 race and the Bladen County Soil and Water District Board.

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