Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman ordered to stand trial in Michigan, missed deadline over robocalls

Oct 30, 2020 at 2:17 pm
click to enlarge 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 area 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, tells Metro Times. “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 predominantly Black populations, including Detroit, 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.”

You can listen to the robocall message here.

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