CLEVELAND — Two men have been indicted on charges to intimidate voters using a robocall scam, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley announced Tuesday.
John Burkman,54, of Virginia and Jacob Wohl, 22, of California are being charged for devising a plan to suppress voting in minority community across the Midwest .
In August, using a broadcasting service provider, Burkman and Wohl placed over 67,000 calls including more than 8,100 calls to Cleveland and East Cleveland residents "intimidating residents to refrain from voting by mail."
In a pre-recorded message, the two falsely warned that if people voted by mail, their information would be used by law enforcement, collection agencies, and the Center for Disease Control for unwarranted purposes such as collecting outstanding debts, mandatory vaccine tracking, and pursing old warrants.
Of the calls made by the pair to Northeast Ohioans, more than 3,400 were answered by a live person or an answering machine.
“The right to vote is the most fundamental component of our nation’s democracy. These individuals clearly infringed upon that right in a blatant attempt to suppress votes and undermine the integrity of this election. These actions will not be tolerated. Anyone who interferes with others’ right to vote must be held accountable,” said Prosecutor O’Malley. We urge all citizens to get out and vote. Do not let these individuals or others like them succeed. Exercise your right and get out and VOTE!”
The Ohio Attorney General's Consumer Protection Section conducted an investigation after receiving multiple complaints regarding the calls and were able to connect Burkman and Wohl to the crime.
They both face the following charges:
- Eight counts of Telecommunications Fraud
- Seven counts of Bribery
Arrest warrants have been issued for both men. Once in custody, they will be arraigned at the Cuyahoga County Justice Center at a later date. If convicted, they face up to a maximum term of 18 ½ years in prison.