Alan and Alex Stokes, twin YouTube stars, were charged with swatting in connection to fake bank robberies in Irvine, California, the Orange County District Attorney announced. The twins’ attorneys told Heavy their clients were wrongfully accused of crimes they did not commit.
A press release issued by the Office of Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer on August 5, 2020, said an Uber driver was held at gunpoint by police when they were responding to a reported bank robbery. The Stokes Twins YouTube channel has videos including a series of pranks.
“Twin brothers who star in YouTube videos featuring pranks on unsuspecting people have been charged with false imprisonment and swatting in connection with a pair of fake bank robberies in Irvine that resulted in their Uber driver being held at gunpoint by police. The Uber driver was not involved in the prank,” the press release says.
However, the brothers’ attorneys said the twins contacted the local police department in advance to notify them of their plans to film the prank videos. Alan and Alex Stokes’ attorneys, Matthew Wallin, Paul Wallin, and Mark A. Gallagher of & Klarich, A Law Corporation announced on September 10, 2020 they reviewed the facts of the case and believe their clients are not guilty.
The Stokes brothers, who are 23, are charged with one felony count of false imprisonment effected by violence, menace, fraud, or deceit and one misdemeanor count of falsely reporting an emergency in connection with the pranks, which occurred on October 15, 2019, the district attorney’s office said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Alan & Alex Stokes Are Facing Criminal Charges in Connection to ‘Prank’ Videos & Their Attorneys Say They Are Not Guilty
Alan and Alex Stokes are social media stars known for prank videos, but now, they are each facing a felony charge in connection with a fake robbery call that resulted in police holding an Uber driver at gunpoint, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said. The Stokes twins could face four years in prison if they are convicted on their charges. They are each facing a felony count of false imprisonment effected by violence, menace, fraud, or deceit and one misdemeanor count of falsely reporting an emergency.
“Our clients have no criminal record. They have never been arrested in their lives. They have had a highly successful YouTube channel for the past three years. None of the prior creative videos they have posted on their YouTube channel (which total in excess of 124 videos) have ever been challenged or taken down for inappropriate content. The twins have 4.9 million YouTube subscribers. We strongly believe when the evidence is presented in this case it will show that our clients are not guilty of any crimes,” the Stokes’ attorneys, Wallin, Paul Wallin and Mark A. Gallagher said in a statement provided to Heavy.
On October 15, 2019, they were filming a video pretending they had just robbed a bank, according to a press release announcing the charges. They were dressed in all black, wearing ski masks and carrying duffel bags filled with cash.
Officials said they ordered an Uber, and the driver refused to drive them. The driver was not aware of the prank, according to the district attorney. A bystander witnessed this, and believed the men were going to carjack the Uber driver, according to the press release. Irvine Police arrived and ordered the Uber driver out of the car at gunpoint. He was released after police determined he was not involved.
Police let the Stokes brothers go with a warning, after telling them their actions were dangerous, the district attorney’s press release said.
However, just four hours later, they attempted to perform a similar prank at the University of California, Irvine campus, and police received additional calls reporting a bank robbery, the district attorney said.
“These were not pranks,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “These are crimes that could have resulted in someone getting seriously injured or even killed. 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’ attorneys said they have reviewed the discovery in the case, and believe their clients were wrongfully accused.
“We can say without hesitation that our clients are in fact not guilty of any crimes. The District Attorney’s office will have to explain why they would wait almost ten months after the alleged crime was committed to issue a press release without arresting our clients or even notifying them of this decision prior to issuing a press release,” a statement provided to Heavy said.
They said while the Stokes brothers were producing their YouTube video, a bystander mistakenly believed there was an emergency and called the Irvine Police Department. The responding officers did not cite or arrest the Stokes, but spoke to them and their videographers, giving them tips on videos, according to the defense attorneys. Alan and Alex also told police they had contacted the police department’s non-emergency line twice to give them notice about their plans for the video.
“Alex and Alan Stokes were never arrested or even cited for these charges. They have not been required to post bail in this case and remain free from custody. There are no restrictions that have been placed upon their ability to continue to produce creative and high-quality content on their YouTube channel,” the statement said.
2. Alex Stokes Nearly Died in 2019 After his Appendix Burst
Alex Stokes underwent emergency surgery in 2019 after his appendix burst, following days of sickness. The twins opened up about the difficult experience on their YouTube channel in February 2019, saying Alex’s condition had become suddenly severe, prompting a trip to the emergency room. There, doctors discovered his appendix had burst.
Alex Stokes had been in extreme discomfort for several days, and debated going to the hospital once he lost his appetite. But Alan thought his brother was probably fine, and talked him out of it. His condition quickly worsened.
“I’ve never seen Alex in this much pain in my entire life. His face turned pale, he was shaking, he was sweating, he was screaming at the top of his lungs,” Alan said on the video.
Doctors found fluid in his pelvis, and Alan met him at the hospital. Alex had emergency surgery, and the doctors told him if he had waited another day, he could have died from an infection.
“I just didn’t know what to do because it just hurt me so bad seeing him like that,” Alan said.
Alex returned to his Los Angeles home after two days in the hospital.
3. YouTubers Alan & Alex Stokes Are Known for Prank Videos on Their YouTube Channel
Alan and Alex Stokes are best known for prank videos, although most of the pranks are much more innocuous than those that resulted in a felony charge for each member of the duo. Last week, the brothers posted a 10-minute video of pranks they performed on their friends. They hoped to get the views up to 100,000, and one week later, it had 2.6 million views.
One of their friends, Brent, hates it when other people use his bathroom. So they used an old roll of toilet paper to make it look like one of them had “a messy accident” on his toilet seat.
“What is that? Is it actually poop?” Brent said when he saw it. “Dude, clean it up. Why are you telling me this? You’re gross.”
In another prank, Alan decided to prank Alex, and called him saying he was pulled over by the police for speeding. He claimed he told the officer he was speeding because his brother hurt himself carrying groceries, and now the cop was following him home. He asked his brother to pretend he was hurt. Alex arrived home to find his brother, lying motionless across the front step with groceries in his hand, and, for some reason, wearing a neck brace.
“Do you know how many cars stopped and asked if I was OK?” Alan Stokes said, laughing. “I’ve been laid out here for five minutes.”
4. Alan & Alex Stokes’ Most Recent Video Was a Food Challenge, Attempting to Eat 100,000 Calories in 24 Hours
Another popular trend of Alan and Alex Stokes’ YouTube videos is food challenges. Their most recent video, published August 4, 2020, includes the Stokes twins and four friends attempting to eat 100,000 calories worth of food in 24 hours.
None of them had eaten in three days. They each weighed themselves at the beginning to see who would gain the most weight at the end of the challenge. They dug into a buffet of junk food, including pizza, wings, donuts, snacks and fast food.
The group managed to polish off the majority of the food, and then learned the winner would receive $10,000. However, the scale broke at the end, and Alex announced they would have a new challenge to see who could lose the most weight in 24 hours.
5. Alan & Alex Stokes Have Nearly 5 Million Subscribers on Their YouTube Channel
The Stokes Twins YouTube account has 4.81 million subscribers. They joined on April 11, 2008, and post new videos every Sunday. Their videos have total views exceeding 500 million.
The Stokes Twins also have a TikTok account with 25.3 million followers and 646.2 million likes.
They celebrated 25 million followers on TikTok with a cake July 18, 2020.
“25 Million followers on tiktok,” Alan Stokes wrote in an Instagram post. “this is such a bittersweet moment since tiktok might get deleted and we won’t get to take any more cake pictures”