News & Politics

Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman Plead Guilty in Robocalls Case

The political stuntmen have bumbled their way into a possible one-year jail term.

Wohl and Burkman (far right) at Burkman's house in Arlington in 2019. Photograph by Andrew Beaujon.

Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman pleaded guilty in Cleveland Monday to a charge of telecommunications fraud. The pair—known around here for baffling schemes like staging an FBI raid on Burkman’s Arlington home and launching a fake TMZ DC site, as well as for confounding events like Burkman getting shot in the butt by a disgruntled former associate—were accused of placing robocalls to more than 85,000 people in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois and New York. In Ohio alone, they reportedly placed 3,500 calls.

As Cleveland.com reported in 2020, the calls targeted minority voters and claimed that “police and debt-collection companies could use personal information that voters put on their mail-in ballots to track down people who have outstanding warrants and credit-card debt” and that the CDC would use voter information to force people to take vaccines.

Somehow, this plan went awry.

Burkman and Wohl were charged with 15 counts of bribery and telecommunications fraud. They each pleaded guilty to a single felony count of telecommunications fraud and face up to a year in prison when they’re sentenced next month. They also face charges over the calls in Michigan and a civil suit in New York. The FCC has proposed they be fined $5.1 million for violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.