Twin Youtube stars Alan and Alex Stokes may be facing time behind bars thanks to a bank robbery prank the pair apparently pulled last year.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office announced Wednesday that the 23-year-old brothers have each been charged with one felony count of false imprisonment effected by violence, menace, fraud, or deceit and one misdemeanor count of falsely reporting an emergency.
The charges stem from an October 15, 2019 incident that was filmed in California for their YouTube channel. At around 2:30 p.m. that day, the brothers — while dressed in black, wearing ski masks, and carrying black duffel bags that seemed to be stuffed with cash — hailed an Uber driver and pretended that they’d just robbed a bank and needed to flee the area, according to the release. The police arrived on the scene after a bystander, who'd witnessed the interaction and believed that the driver was getting carjacked, called 911; the Uber driver was then held at gunpoint by authorities until police were able to get a handle on what was going on, according to officials.
The video has since been deleted or made private on the twins’ YouTube channel, but the footage lives on in videos uploaded by other channels. In one scene, the twins can be seen rushing into an Uber and telling the driver, whose face was blurred out in the video, that their getaway driver “bailed on [them].”
“Would you step on it, like, step on the gas?” one of the twins can be heard saying.
“This is weird. It’s not funny,” the driver responds, before telling the pair to please get out of his car.
“No, we’re gonna get caught,” one twin says in response, but they both leave the vehicle and run away.
After their arrival on the scene, police gave the twins a warning, explaining to them that their conduct was dangerous before letting them go, according to the release. This is also included in previously published footage of the incident, which shows gathered officers talking to the brothers and their videographer on the sidewalk.
"Think about what’s going on nowadays. Think about it, man, you gotta be smarter than that, man. You know better,” one officer says in the video. “Like I said, I want you to be creative and do what you want to do, but you've got to be smarter than this. What do you think people are gonna do? And you’re lucky you didn’t get any guns drawn on you."
However, despite the stern discussion from the authorities, the Stokes brothers allegedly repeated the same behavior around four hours later on the campus of the University of California, Irvine, and police were called again regarding a suspected bank robbery, according to the release.
In Wednesday’s statement, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer pointed to the dangers of such antics.
“These were not pranks. These are crimes that could have resulted in someone getting seriously injured or even killed,” he said. “Law enforcement officers are sworn to protect the public and when someone calls 911 to report an active bank robbery they are going to respond to protect lives. Instead, what they found was some kind of twisted attempt to gain more popularity on the internet by unnecessarily putting members of the public and police officers in danger.”
The Stokes brothers have not commented publicly on the case. They face a maximum sentence of four years in prison each if convicted on all counts, the release states.
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