Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman hit with 15 new felony charges one day after testifying in related case
Jacob Wohl NBC
This article originally appeared here on Salon.com
Weeks after the Michigan prosecutors charged the two right-wing provocateurs on charges of alleged voter intimidation, 22-year-old Jacob Wohl and 58-year-old Jack Burkman were indicted by an Ohio grand jury of separate offenses.
Local prosecutors charged Wohl and Burkman eight cases each of telecommunications fraud and seven cases of bribery for voicing false postal voting concerns in false minority communities in Ohio and several other states. Arrest warrants have been issued against the couple, which, if convicted, face a prison sentence of up to 18 years and six months.
(Ohio defines “bribery” in this instance as “attempting, by intimidation, coercion, or other illegal means to induce or refrain from registering in a primary, congressional, or election for a particular person or to vote or not to vote, question or problem. ")
The self-advocate duo testified the day before in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) on a civil lawsuit filed on behalf of the National Coalition for Black Citizens Involvement in relation to the same alleged system has been. The lawsuit alleges that Wohl and Burkman made the calls in violation of Ku Klux Klan law. (Wohl and Burkman are both Jewish.)
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Recordings with a woman's voice falsely told recipients that postal ballot papers could be used to "collect outstanding debts", "track down old warrants" and "track people down for mandatory vaccines". The record cited in the lawsuit stated that the calls were made on behalf of Project 1599, Burkman's group.
"Stay safe," concluded the calls, "and be careful not to vote in the mail."
Burkman, who denied involvement in August, appeared to admit he made the calls during the hearing in New York. When the judge asked whether he "acted alone or with someone else, he prepared this message and had it sent," Burkman replied in the affirmative.
"Oh yes, your honor. Yes," he said, adding, "Yes. Yes. Yes."
Wohl and Burkman are said to have conspired with a notorious electoral trickster this year: information about the grand jury in the trial of long-time GOP employee Roger Stone, who was pardoned by President Donald Trump in July.
Cuyahoga County prosecutors allege 8,100 calls were made to phone numbers in Cleveland and East Cleveland, of which more than 3,400 were answered by a living person or voicemail.
"The right to vote is the most fundamental part of our nation's democracy," Cuyahoga County Attorney Michael O'Malley said in a statement. "These individuals have clearly violated this right by openly attempting to suppress votes and undermine the integrity of this election. These acts will not be tolerated. Anyone who interferes with the rights of others must be held accountable."
In a statement announcing the Michigan prosecution - where the couple were released after pleading not guilty and on bail of $ 100,000 - Attorney General Dana Nessel described similar robocalls targeting areas target with "significant minorities" in the state. Nessel had stated that investigations were ongoing in Ohio and New York, as well as Pennsylvania and Illinois.
Wohl and Burkman achieved internet infamy through a series of unfortunate attempts to brand their political enemies with absurd allegations of sexual inappropriateness by forcing, paying, or otherwise persuading real people to make false accusations. A poorly thought out but lavish conspiracy against former special adviser Robert Mueller collapsed in spectacular fashion, possibly leading to the FBI opening an investigation into a fake intelligence company set up for the purpose.
Shortly after his testimony at the SDNY on Monday, Wohl had to attend a hearing in the California Supreme Court where he was charged with securities fraud last year. The hearing was postponed to mid-November according to court records.
Salon reported in May that the Arizona Attorney General had coordinated with California officials to pursue tens of thousands of dollars in fines and court fees that were presumably imposed in a separate securities fraud case.
Wohl and Burkman did not immediately respond to Salon’s request for comment.
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Listen to a recording of the robocall here.
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