Twins whose shenanigans gained them YouTube fame have pleaded guilty to a number of charges related to a pair of fake robberies in Irvine.
Alan and Alex Stokes pleaded guilty to the charges—which included misdemeanor false imprisonment and reporting false emergencies—in exchange for a plea bargain, the Orange County District Attorney’s office said March 31.
The 23-year-old twins came to notoriety after posting videos on YouTube of pranks they played on unsuspecting people.
The Stokes brothers were accused of having their videographer film them dressed in black, wearing ski masks and carrying duffle bags full of cash, telling the driver that they had just robbed an Irvine bank.
The driver refused to drive them, and a bystander witness called police believing the two men had just robbed a bank and were attempting to carjack the Uber driver.
When Irvine police arrived, they ordered the Uber driver out of his car at gunpoint and arrested him.
He was released after police determined he was not involved in the prank. Police let the Stokes brothers go after issuing a warning about the dangerousness of their conduct.
Four hours later, the brothers conducted the same style of prank on the UC–Irvine campus, and Irvine police responded to calls of a possible bank robbery.
“An active bank robbery is not a casual police response. These police officers were literally risking their lives to help people they believed were in danger,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement.
“It is irresponsible and reckless that these two individuals cared more about increasing their number of Internet followers than the safety of those officers and the innocent Uber driver who was ordered out of his car at gunpoint.
“These crimes could have easily resulted in someone being seriously hurt or killed,” Spitzer said in the statement.
Though they each faced a maximum sentence of five years in jail if convicted on all counts, their guilty pleas were exchanged by the judge who reduced the felony false imprisonment charge to a misdemeanor.
Each of the brothers were charged with one felony count of false imprisonment effected by violence, menace, fraud or deceit and two misdemeanor counts of falsely reporting an emergency in connection with the October 2019 prank.
The duo received a reduced sentence of 160 hours of community service, one year of formal probation, and were ordered to pay restitution. The judge also ordered the brothers to stay away from UCI, and to stop making videos that mimic criminal behavior.