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Julius Henson, Company Must Pay $1M For Robocalls

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BALTIMORE (AP) — A U.S. District Court judge has ordered Julius Henson, who was convicted of conspiracy arising from robocalls aimed at keeping black voters from the polls in 2010, to pay the state of Maryland more than $1 million.

Attorney General Douglas Gansler announced Judge Catherine Blake’s order Tuesday afternoon. The damages are for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection.

Henson, his company Universal Elections Inc., and an employee, Rhonda Russell, who recorded the calls, must pay the damages, according to the order.

Henson was convicted on May 11 of conspiracy. He will be sentenced June 13.

Ehrlich campaign manager Paul Schurick also was convicted in the case. Schurick was found guilty of conspiring to use fraud to influence or attempt to influence a voter’s decision to go to the polls and to publish campaign material without an authority line. He received a one-year suspended sentence and 30 days of home detention.

Gansler said the robocall was written, recorded and sent by Henson and Russell on behalf of the 2010 campaign of former Gov. Robert Ehrlich, a Republican who was seeking to recapture the office.

The call said: “Hello. I’m calling to let everyone know that Governor O’Malley and President Obama have been successful. Our goals have been met. The polls were correct and we took it back. We’re OK. Relax. Everything is fine. The only thing left is to watch it on TV tonight. Congratulations and thank you.”

Missing from the message was the name and address or phone number of the party that initiated the call, which Gansler said violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The robocalls were made to more than 112,000 Democratic voters in Prince George’s County and Baltimore City, which have large black populations.

Henson has been ordered to pay $1 million; Russell was ordered to pay $10,000.

Henson’s lawyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Russell’s voicemail box was full.

Gansler said in an emailed statement, “On the night of the 2010 election I vowed to discover who was responsible for these voter suppression robocalls and hold the perpetrators responsible. With this verdict, that is exactly what we have done.”

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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