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Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl sentenced to 500 hours registering voters


In the summer of 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 that fall could lead to their information being harvested by police, debt collectors or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ohio prosecutors in October 2020 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 have their punishment: They must spend 500 hours helping register people to vote.

Judge John Sutula in 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, according to the county prosecutor’s office.

“I think it’s a despicable thing that you guys have done,” the judge said on Tuesday, comparing the robocall scam to efforts to suppress Southern Black voters in the 1960s, reported.

Burkman, 56, and Wohl, 24, staged several irreverent stunts to add to the stream of disinformation that bombarded Americans in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election. In addition to operating the robocalls, the pair called a news conference promising to produce a sexual assault accuser against special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, though the alleged accuser never showed. They allegedly recruited young Republican men to make false sexual assault claims against then-presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. They staged a fake FBI raid on Burkman’s Arlington, Va., home that briefly fooled The Washington Post.

“These two individuals attempted to disrupt the foundation of our democracy,” a spokesperson for the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office wrote to The Post on Wednesday. “Their sentence of two years’ probation and 500 hours of community work service at a voter-registration drive is appropriate.”

An attorney for Wohl declined to comment to The Post but told CNN that he was “pleased with the outcome” and that Wohl is “generally remorseful.” An attorney for Burkman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, Wohl said he wanted “to express my absolute regret and shame over all of this,” reported. Burkman said he “would just echo Mr. Wohl’s sentiment,” according to the outlet.

Burkman and Wohl were charged after a wave of roughly 85,000 robocalls targeted voters in Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois in 2020.

The calls falsely warned recipients that the personal information of those who registered to vote by mail would be shared with police, credit card companies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Voters were told not to be “finessed into giving your private information to the man.”

In October 2020, Michigan’s attorney general first brought felony charges against the pair of intimidating voters, conspiring to violate election law and using a computer to commit a crime. Dave Yost, the Ohio attorney general, investigated Burkman and Wohl before referring them to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor the same month, he said in a statement. New York’s attorney general joined a lawsuit against the pair started by various civil rights organizations in May 2021.

FCC proposes record $5 million fine against Jacob Wohl, Jack Burkman for election robocalls

The attorneys general alleged that the robocalling operation targeted minority communities to suppress their voting power.

The cases against Burkman and Wohl in Michigan and New York are ongoing. Burkman and Wohl may also face a historic $5 million fine from the Federal Communications Commission for making robocalls to cellphones without people’s consent.