COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Federal Communications Commission is proposing a $5 million fine against two men who authorities allege targeted Black voters in the Cleveland area in an effort to dissuade them from taking part in the 2020 presidential election.
The recorded messages told potential voters that if they voted by mail, their “personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts.”
None of that was true.
“It’s pretty obvious that they were trying to discourage Black citizens from exercising their right to vote by mail and that’s just reprehensible,” Yost told 10 Investigates during an interview this week.
FCC said in a statement this week that it worked with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office to identify two dialing service providers, which helped lead authorities to men who allegedly hired the dialing services.
According to the FCC, the calls themselves identified Jacob Wohl and John Burkman by name and used Burkman’s wireless phone number as the caller ID. Wohl and Burkman also both admitted under oath to their involvement in the creation and distribution of the robocalls, with Burkman stating in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, “That is our call, yes, yes” with confirmation from Wohl.
Both men are currently facing bribery and telecommunications fraud charges out of Cuyahoga County.
10 Investigates left a message for Burkman and his attorney. Friday afternoon 10 Investigates did speak with Wohl’s attorney, Mark Wieczorek, who said he couldn’t comment on the FCC fine but that with regard to the pending criminal case his client is maintaining his innocence and that he did nothing wrong.
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