Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman to Stand Trial in Detroit Over Robocalls, Miss Deadline in New York Case

by

comment
Jacob Wohl - D M, FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS
  • D M, Flickr Creative Commons
  • Jacob Wohl

The two right-wing fraudsters who are accused of making robocalls with bogus claims to discourage Black voter turnout in the Detroit and Cleveland areas had bad days in court over the past two days.

Jacob Wohl, 22, and Jack Burkman, 54, were ordered to stand trial in Detroit on Thursday in a criminal case in which they face up to five years in prison on charges of intimidating voters, conspiracy to commit an election law violation, and using a computer to commit the crime of conspiracy and election law.



In New York federal court, where they were sued over the alleged voter-suppression scheme, the conservative tricksters failed to meet a judge’s deadline to call back the victims of the robocalls and admit the messages were false and illegal. U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero ordered them to make the calls by 5 p.m. Thursday.

“Defendants have not yet executed the curative call that the Court ordered,” David Brody, lead attorney for the Digital Justice Initiative at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said. “There have been multiple hearings today about the logistics of executing the curative call. Defendants have a 3:00 p.m. deadline to let the Court know their plan to comply with the Court’s instructions.”



Wohl and Burkman are accused of making robocalls to about 85,000 voters in areas with predominately Black populations, including Detroit and Cleveland, falsely claiming their personal information from mail-in ballots could lead to their arrests for outstanding arrest warrants or be used to collect unpaid credit card debts. The calls also falsely warned that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could use the information to track people for mandatory vaccines.

During a preliminary examination in Detroit on Wednesday, Judge Kenneth King said there was sufficient evidence to warrant a circuit court trial. Among the evidence presented was an email attributed to Wohl and Burkman saying, “I love these robo calls … getting angry black call backs (sic) … win or lose … the black robo was a great idea,” The Detroit News reports.

"What matters here is intent and their intent was to present false and misleading calls," the judge said. "That's exactly what we have here."

The robocall states: “Mail-in voting sounds great, but did you know that if you vote by mail, your personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts? The CDC is even pushing to use records for mail-in voting to track people for mandatory vaccines. Don’t be finessed into giving your private information to the man, stay safe and beware of vote by mail.”

The duo were indicted earlier this week in Cuyahoga County and face 18+ years in prison on fifteen separate counts.

Win or lose, it does not appear that the 'black robo' was a great idea.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.