It was the best prank two young fans could play. Unfortunately, federal law accounts for such tomfoolery, and these fans are now dealing with a serious situation.
Joshua Barber and Nicholas Kaiser, who are both 20 years old and from Plymouth, Mass., face federal charges that have a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $500,000 fine, the Buffalo News reports. Their crime? Having a little fun at the hapless Buffalo Bills’ expense.
Or, as the charges read, “intentionally intercepting a wire communication and making a telephone call without disclosing their identity with the intent to annoy or harass the person at the called number.” (Yes, that’s a charge.)
Barber and Kaiser must appear in court 10 a.m. Tuesday, where U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder will consider the case, according to U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr.‘s announcement Wednesday.
The big trouble stems from a prank call that almost never was.
Barber and Kaiser called the office of then-Bills general manager Buddy Nix on March 8, identifying themselves as Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik. They weren’t expecting Nix to pick up, but he did, and they quickly hung up, they later told Deadspin. But Nix, thinking they were Dominik, called them back — several times. As he continued to call, they decided to take the prank further and connect Nix and Dominik on the line and listen in.
They pulled it off and listened for several minutes as Nix and Dominik discussed their teams and free agency. Barber and Kaiser then took the recording and contacted Deadspin, which posted the back-and-forth March 12. The conversation included Nix’s thoughts about soon-to-be-cut quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, among other moments that would prove embarrassing.
Now, Barber and Kaiser will have to answer for the cold call, which morphed into something far more serious when the recording and sale became involved — no matter how brilliant the original prank.