I-Team: Voter intimidation charges filed for robocalls

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CLEVELAND (WJW)– The FOX 8 I-Team uncovered the story behind charges just filed against two men for phone calls scaring voters.

The I-Team revealed Tuesday morning, a Cuyahoga County grand jury indicted two men for robocalls, recorded messages, sent to thousands of inner city voters to intimidate them so that they would not vote by mail.

“Don’t be finessed into giving your private information to the man… Your personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used for credit card companies to collect outstanding debts.”

“The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) is even pushing to use records for mailing voting to track people for mandatory vaccines…”

“It’s specifically a scare tactic,” said assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor Richard Bell

Prosecutors indicted Jacob Wohl and John Burkman. They already faced similar charges in Michigan. Here, they’ve been hit with a long list of charges for telecommunications fraud and bribery.

“The bribery is actually an intimidation. An attempt to suppress the vote. If we look at the bribery statute specific language, it says a person should not intimidate somebody,” Bell said.

The I-Team tracked down the defense lawyers for both suspects out of state. They hadn’t seen the charges here. But Scott Grabel and William Amadeo said they consider the robocalls free speech and not a crime to keep people from voting by mail.

We asked one lawyer why anyone would even send out those calls. The attorney said he didn’t want to talk about that with cases pending.

“This crosses the line into a criminal violation,” Bell said.

We played the message for voters outside the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. It left them disgusted.

“They’re really trying to draw on people’s fear,” one woman said.

The case began when Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and others complained to the Ohio Attorney General.

Prosecutors said the messages were heard by more than 3,400 voters in Cuyahoga County and the calls have gone to 67,000 people in the Midwest.

Investigators put out arrest warrants for both suspects. They are due in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in the middle of next month.

We’re told at least one other state is also looking into possible criminal charges for the calls.

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