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Government & Politics

Cuyahoga County Files First Voter Intimidation Charges in Ohio Tied to 2020 Election

a photo of the cuyahoga county board of elections
Karen Kasler
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Authorities allege two men set up a robocall to try to discourage Clevelanders and others around the country from voting.

Cuyahoga County has filed what’s believed to be the first voter intimidation criminal charges in Ohio tied to the 2020 election.

Jacob Wohl, 22, of California and John Burkman, 54, of Virginia, are accused of engineering a robocall scam targeting more than 67,000 Black voters in five states, including Cleveland. The caller falsely claimed that personal mail-in voting information would be shared with police, credit card companies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to require mandatory vaccinations.

The Ohio charges are similar to ones filed in Michigan, in a case originally raised by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Jon Greenbaum, the committee’s chief counsel, said such threats violate state and and federal voting laws.

“If you distributed a flier or robocall telling people if they’re going to vote there are going to be people down at the polls that are going to be checking to see if they have outstanding arrest warrants and if they do, they’ll be arrested on the spot, something like that would be a clear violation.”

Wohl and Burkman have been charged with eight counts of telecommunications fraud and seven of bribery.

Read the indictment: