Conservative hoaxers face charges over false voter robocalls

FILE - In this March 5, 2020, file photo, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel addresses the media during a news conference in Lansing, Mich. Jacob Wohl, 22, and Jack Burkman, 54, two notorious conservative operatives were charged Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020 with felonies in connection with false robocalls that aimed to dissuade residents in Detroit and other U.S. cities from voting by mail, Michigan's attorney general announced. (AP Photo/David Eggert, File)
FILE - In this March 5, 2020, file photo, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel addresses the media during a news conference in Lansing, Mich. Jacob Wohl, 22, and Jack Burkman, 54, two notorious conservative operatives were charged Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020 with felonies in connection with false robocalls that aimed to dissuade residents in Detroit and other U.S. cities from voting by mail, Michigan's attorney general announced. (AP Photo/David Eggert, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Two conservative operatives were charged Thursday in connection with false robocalls that aimed to dissuade Black residents in Detroit and other Democratic-leaning U.S. cities from voting by mail, Michigan's attorney general announced.

Jacob Wohl, 22, and Jack Burkman, 54, each face four felony counts in Detroit, including conspiring to intimidate voters in violation of election law and using a computer to commit crimes, Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

The calls falsely warned residents in majority-Black Detroit and cities in at least four other states that if they vote by mail in the Nov. 3 election they could be subjected to arrest, debt collection and forced vaccination, Nessel said.

The men, who have a history of staging hoaxes and spreading lies about prominent Democrats and government officials, are not in custody, and no date for their arraignments has been set.

Nessel said her office would work with local law enforcement to secure their appearances, saying they could face arrest and extradition or could voluntarily travel to Michigan to face the charges.

The charges carry the potential for years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. The computer charges carry up to seven years apiece, while election law violations could bring up to five.

Nessel’s office warned the public about the calls and launched an investigation in August after thousands of Detroit residents received them.

Wohl and Burkman both denied involvement at the time. Burkman didn't reply to a Thursday voicemail seeking comment and Wohl didn't reply to an email.