Twin YouTube stars Alan and Alex Stokes charged with staging fake bank robberies
Twin YouTube stars Alan and Alex Stokes face criminal charges in connection with staging two fake bank robberies in Irvine, one of which involved an Uber driver who was not in on the prank.
Orange County prosecutors Wednesday charged Alan and Alex Stokes, 23-year-old residents of Irvine, with one felony count each of false imprisonment involving violence, menace, fraud or deceit, and one misdemeanor count each of falsely reporting an emergency in relation to the October 2019 incidents.
Prosecutors allege that on Oct. 15 about 2:30 p.m., the brothers — dressed in all black, wearing ski masks and carrying duffel bags filled with cash — pretended that they had robbed a bank while being filmed by their videographer.
They then ordered an Uber and got inside the car. Their Uber driver, unaware of the prank, refused to drive them, and a bystander who had witnessed the encounter thought that the twin brothers had robbed a bank and were trying to carjack the driver, prosecutors said.
Irvine police were called to the scene and ordered the driver out at gunpoint, later determining that he was not involved in what they had been told was a bank robbery.
The brothers were released with a warning but performed a similar prank four hours later on UC Irvine’s campus, prosecutors stated.
“These are crimes that could have resulted in someone getting seriously injured or even killed,” Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer said in a news release. “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 brothers, who are not in custody, face a maximum sentence of four years in prison if convicted on all counts.
In a statement provided to the Times in September, Matthew Wallin, Paul Wallin, and Mark A. Gallagher, the team of attorneys representing the Stokes brothers, said their clients “are not guilty of any crimes.” The Stokes brothers, they said, have no prior criminal record and were never arrested on the charges. They added that the brothers had contacted the Irvine Police Department to give them advance notice of the “prank” video.
“We strongly believe when the evidence is presented in this case it will show that our clients are not guilty of any crimes,” the attorneys said.
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