A key figure in a North Carolina investigation into ballot fraud in a congressional race has pleaded guilty to federal charges involving Social Security benefits. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh said Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. entered the plea Monday in Greenville federal court. Prosecutors had accused Dowless of receiving benefits unlawfully by concealing money he earned working on state and federal campaigns. The charges carry a combined maximum sentence of 15 years. Dowless still faces state charges involving the 2016 and 2018 elections. He is accused of directing people to collect incomplete absentee ballots in a congressional race and making it appear that the voters had finished them.