California, Virginia men accused of harassing voters with robocall arraigned in Detroit

Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 12:28 PM EDT
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DETROIT, Mich. (WJRT) - Two political operatives accused of sending a threatening robocall about mail-in voting to thousands of people around Detroit were arraigned Thursday on four charges apiece.

Investigators say 54-year-old Jack Burkman of Arlington, Va. and 22-year-old Jacob Wohl of Los Angeles sent a series of robocalls to thousands of people in the Detroit area and other urban centers in the U.S. making false claims about consequences for voting by mail on Nov. 3.

They were arraigned in Detroit on the following charges:

  • An election law violation of intimidating voters.
  • Conspiracy to commit an election law violation.
  • Using a computer to commit the crime of intimidating voters.
  • Using a computer to commit the crime of conspiracy.

Both faces up to seven years in prison if they are convicted of the most serious charges.

Burkman and Wohl are accused of creating and paying for a robocall that went out to residents in urban areas, including Detroit, in late August.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said the robocall falsely claimed that people who vote by mail are entered into a police database to track down old warrants and outstanding credit card debts. The call allegedly also claimed falsely that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses mail-in voting information to track down people for mandatory vaccines.

Nessel said nearly 12,000 residents in Michigan received the calls, which originated from a number in Detroit’s 313 area code. Attorneys general in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois also received word about similar calls in urban areas of their states.

Anyone who received the robocall around Aug. 26 and who wants to file a complaint can call the Michigan Attorney General’s Office at 517-335-7650.

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