Two Right-Wing Conspiracy Theorists Plead Guilty in Election Robocall Hoax

Two Right-Wing Conspiracy Theorists Plead Guilty in Election Robocall Hoax

Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman each pleaded guilty to a felony charge of telecommunications fraud in Ohio on Monday. The two right-wing hacks were previously indicted on numerous counts of fraud and bribery by the Cuyahoga County prosecutor over scam robocalls made in Ohio ahead of the 2020 election. The calls targeted phone numbers in predominantly Black neighbourhoods and attempted to dissuade mail-in voting.

Specifically, the pre-recorded calls falsely claimed that voting by mail would give personal data to the police, debt collectors, and a fake CDC mandatory vaccination program. “Don’t be finessed into giving your private information to the Man. Stay safe and beware of vote by mail,” the message concluded.

The prosecutor’s office accused the pair of making over 8,000 such calls in Cleveland and East Cleveland, with about 3,500 answered by a person or voicemail. But Wohl and Burkman’s stunt allegedly went well-beyond Cleveland. In total, they’ve been accused of using a voice broadcast service to make 85,000 robocalls across Ohio, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.

In addition to the Cuyahoga County charges, they face federal charges brought by the New York Attorney General, a $US5.1 ($7) million fine from the Federal Communications Commission, and additional criminal charges filed against them in Detroit.

And if Wohl and Burkman sound familiar to you, it’s because this is far from their first public, poorly conceived exploit. The conservative conspiracy theorists have previously teamed up to falsely accuse Robert Mueller of rape — a stunt they repeated with Pete Buttigieg and Anthony Fauci. They’ve also leveled some wild accusations of gang activity against Adidas. Wohl was also previously arraigned in California over securities fraud, and may be under investigation by the FBI.

For the Cleveland calls, Wohl and Burkman are set to be sentenced November 29, and could each receive a year of jail time, according to a report by the Associated Press. By pleading guilty, they each also agreed to pay a fine of $US2,500 ($3,471).

“Voter intimidation won’t be tolerated in Ohio,” the state’s Attorney General Dave Yost said in a press statement. “My Robocall Enforcement Unit, along with BCI, assisted in the investigation and was able to partner with Prosecutor O’Malley to shut down these two people who were trying to commit voter intimidation.”

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