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Judge: 'Despicable' Anti-Vote Robocallers Must Help Registration

In 2020, tens of thousands of people across five states received robocalls urging them not to vote by mail. The calls falsely warned that mailing in their ballots could lead to their information being harvested by police, debt collectors or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ohio prosecutors charged right-wing operatives Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl with telecommunications fraud in connection with the scheme, and two years later, the two men pleaded guilty. Now, they are being required to spend 500 hours helping register people to vote, reports the Washington Post. Judge John Sutula of Ohio’s Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court also sentenced Burkman and Wohl to two years of probation, fines of $2,500 each and electronic monitoring from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. for six months.


“I think it’s a despicable thing that you guys have done,” the judge said comparing the robocall scam to efforts to suppress Southern Black voters in the 1960s, Cleveland.com reported. Burkman, 56, and Wohl, 24, staged several irreverent stunts to add to the stream of disinformation that bombarded voters in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election. The pair called a news conference promising to produce a sexual assault accuser against special counsel Robert Mueller, though the alleged accuser never showed. They allegedly recruited young Republican men to make false sexual assault claims against then-presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. "These two individuals attempted to disrupt the foundation of our democracy,” said a spokesperson for the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office. “Their sentence of two years’ probation and 500 hours of community work service at a voter-registration drive is appropriate.” Burkman and Wohl were charged after a wave of 85,000 robocalls targeted voters in Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois in 2020. Burkman and Wohl may face a historic $5 million fine from the Federal Communications Commission for making robocalls to cellphones without people’s consent.

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