An Ohio judge ordered right-wing operatives Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman to spend 500 hours registering new voters after the duo pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a scheme to use robocalls to depress Black voter turnout in the 2020 election.
According to court documents, the calls were made across multiple Midwest states, and used false information in an attempt to dissuade predominantly Black voters from casting mail-in ballots at a time when COVID rates across the U.S. were spiking.
The robocalls falsely told voters that their information would be given to a public database, allowing police departments to track down warrants, credit card companies to collect outstanding debts, and even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “track people for mandatory vaccines.”
“Don’t be finessed into giving your private information to the man,” the call said. “Stay safe and beware of vote by mail.”
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge John Sutula also fined the two defendants $2,500, and placed them on two years probation, according to local media outlet Cleveland.com.
The Judge compared the men’s efforts to those who used violence in order to suppress southern Black voters in the 1960s, during the height of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
“I think it’s a despicable thing that you guys have done,” Sutula said, according to The Associated Press.
Wohl and Burkman last year wereby the Federal Communications Commission over the robocalls.
The pair have also come under fire for other schemes, including attempting to recruit men into making false sexual assault allegations directed toward then-presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, according to The Daily Beast. Though one man came forward with an allegation, it was retracted hours later.