Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman Surrender to Michigan Authorities Over Racist Robocall Scam

Right-wing activists Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman surrendered to authorities in Michigan on Thursday, one week after State Attorney General Dana Nessel filed charges against the pair for orchestrating a racist robocall scam targeting black voters.

Jacob Wohl facing consequences
Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Wohl, 22, and Burkman, 54, were arraigned at the 36th District Court in Detroit, where they pleaded not guilty to five felonies, Nessel announced in a press release:

    • One count of election law – intimidating voters, a five-year felony;
    • One count of conspiracy to commit an election law violation, a five-year felony;
    • One count of using a computer to commit the crime of election law – intimidating voters, a seven-year felony; and
    • Using a computer to commit the crime of conspiracy, a seven-year felony.

Wohl and Burkman face harsh penalties if they are convicted. Sentencing will ultimately fall within the bounds of judicial disrection.

“The maximum amount of prison time each defendant could receive under law is 12 years, due to Michigan’s concurrent sentencing statutes,” Nessel said Thursday. “However, the actual length of incarceration, if any, will depend on sentencing guidelines and the judge’s determination.”

According to The Daily Beast, the robocalls contained a recorded message by a woman claiming to work for “Project 1599… a civil rights organization founded by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl,” warning voters to beware of getting “BS’ed into giving your private information to the man” and to “stay safe and beware of vote-by-mail,” which echoes President Donald Trump’s ongoing lie that mail-in voting leads to fraud.

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the United States, FBI Director Chrisopher Wray confirmed in multiple congressional hearings in late September.

“The voice on the call then lies to listeners that mail-in ballot information will be used by police to track fugitives, by credit card companies to find debtors, and by the Centers for Disease Control to ‘track people for mandatory vaccines,'” The Daily Beast reported when the scandal broke in August.

There is no veracity to any of the robocall’s claim.

Despite being identified by name in the recording, Wohl and Burkman maintain their innocence.

“It’s involving a robocall, which is protected speech,” their attorney, Scott Grabel, said at Thursday’s arraignment.

The state said that it has a zero tolerance policy for people who “make a mockery” of democracy.

“These are gentlemen that make a mockery out of our system of government,” Richard Cunningham, chief attorney for the Nessel’s criminal division, remarked on Thursday. “I think it’s very important to send a message that what is fundamental in our system is the right for everyone to participate in an election, and an attempt to deter people from doing so will not be tolerated.”

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