Lawyer and co-defendant behind robocalls with false ballot information are ordered to register voters
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An Ohio judge has ordered a lawyer and a co-defendant to register voters in Washington, D.C., for sending robocalls with false information about mail-in ballots to minority neighborhoods in Cleveland before the 2020 presidential election.
Judge John D. Sutula of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, ordered Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl to spend 500 hours registering voters as part of their punishment following their guilty plea to telecommunications fraud.
Cleveland.com, Law360, CNN and the Washington Post have coverage.
Burkman is a lawyer, according to Law360. He is also known as John M. Burkman.
The robocalls had falsely claimed that information from mail-in ballots would be used to find people who had outstanding arrest warrants and unpaid credit card debt, prosecutors said.
Sutula also sentenced Burkman and Wohl to two years of probation and home confinement from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. for the first six months of their probation. Sutula also ordered the defendants to each pay a $2,500 fine.
Sutula told Burkman and Wohl that they had done “a despicable thing,” and he viewed Burkman’s conduct as “a betrayal of your oath as an attorney to uphold the Constitution of the United States,” according to Cleveland.com and Law360.
Burkman and Wohl are also facing charges in Michigan in connection with robocalls and a lawsuit by civil rights organizations in federal court in New York, according to Fox News. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission is seeking a $5 million fine for robocalls to wireless phones.
A press release by the New York attorney general, which joined the civil suit, included this transcript of one of the automated recordings: “Hi, this is Tamika Taylor from Project 1599, the civil rights organization founded by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl. 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.”