2 Men Targeting Cleveland Minority Voters Indicted!



Patch.com, By Jeff Arnold, Posted October 30th 2020

Prosecutors say the men placed 67,000 calls in the Midwest attempting to keep residents from voting and now face bribery, fraud charges.

Two out-of-state residents have been indicted for devising a robocall scam meant to intimidate voters in minority neighborhoods and to keep them from voting by mail, local and state officials announced on Tuesday.

Virginia resident John Burkman, 54, and California resident Jacob Wahl, 22, were indicted in the voter suppression scam by a grand jury Tuesday and now face up to more than 18 years in prison, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said.

Officials determined that in August, Burkman and Wahl used a voice broadcasting service provider to place more than 67,000 calls across multiple states across the Midwest. More than 8,100 of those calls were sent to telephone numbers located in Cleveland and East Cleveland and more than 3,400 of those calls were answered either by an actual person or voicemail, prosecutors said.

Ring  |  Featured Advertisement

Giant Bear Throws Himself a Kiddie Pool Party

This uninvited swimmer came and went in the middle of the night, but thanks to the video recording from her Ring Floodlight Cam, Cyria knew exactly what happened.

Watch Now

The pre-recorded message falsely warned people that if they voted by mail, that their information could be used by law enforcement, collection agencies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for pursuing old warrants, collecting outstanding debts and tracking people for mandatory vaccines, prosecutors said.

After receiving multiple complaints, state officials launched an investigation that led to the indictments and both men were charged with eight counts of telecommunications fraud and seven counts of bribery. If convicted, Burkman and Wahl face up to 18 ½ years in prison.

“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,” O’Malley said in a news release.

On Tuesday, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said during Gov. Mike DeWine’s daily press conference that voter intimidation will not be tolerated in Ohio. LaRose said that state officials have seen a record number of early voting and absentee ballots cast a week before the general election is held. As of Tuesday, 3.2 million Ohioans have requested absentee ballots, more than double of that in 2016. More than 1.5 million voters have already returned ballots, LaRose said while 2.2 million residents have already cast their ballots.

LaRose said there have been several instances of disinformation being shared, including the case that led to the indictment of the two men on Tuesday.

“We don’t tolerate that in Ohio,” LaRose said during Tuesday’s news conference. “We don’t tolerate voter intimidation, we don’t tolerate disinformation…anybody who thinks they’re going to get away with that kind of thing has another thing coming.”

Smiley face Smiley face Smiley face Smiley face Smiley face