Two right-wing operatives plead guilty to disinformation robocall scheme

Oct. 25 (UPI) -- A pair of right-wing operatives have each pleaded guilty to a single felony charge in connection to making tens of thousands of robocalls across the the nation falsely warning predominately minority and Democratic citizens ahead of the 2020 general election that their information could be used against them if they vote by mail.

Ohio Attorney General Gave Yost said Jacob Wohl, 24, of Irvine, Calif., and Jack Burkman, 56, of Arlington, Va., pleaded guilty Monday to felonious telecommunications fraud.


"Voter intimidation won't be tolerated in Ohio," Yost said in a statement.

Wohl and Burkman were initially charged by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley in October of 2020 on eight counts of telecommunications fraud and seven counts of bribery.

Prosecutors said the pair of operatives on Aug. 26, 2020, utilized a broadcasting service provider to make more than 67,000 calls across the Midwest, including 8,100 to phones in Cleveland and East Cleveland, of which some 3,400 were answered by either a live person or voice mail.

Those who answered the calls were met with a pre-recorded message that falsely warned them that if they voted by mail their information could be used by law enforcement to produce old warrants, agencies to collect debt and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to mandate vaccinations.


"The right to vote is the most fundamental component of our nation's democracy," O'Malley said in a statement announcing the charges in 2020. "These individuals clearly infringed upon that right in a blatant attempt to suppress votes and undermine the integrity of this election."

New York Attorney General Letitia James is also suing the pair in connection to their robocall scheme, stating they attempted to threaten and harass Black voters throughout the eastern state.

In a statement from May of last year, James said Wohl and Burkman called more than 85,000 phones nationwide, including some 5,500 New Yorkers.

She said they specifically targeted Black communities ahead of the election "in a clear attempt to sway the election in the favor of their preferred presidential candidate."

The Federal Communication Commission has also proposed for the two men to be fined more than $5 million over the robocalls.

Latest Headlines