Man charged with framing Maryland principal with AI-generated racist rant

Maryland High school athletic director Dazhon "DJ" Darien is accused of using AI to fake a racist rant in the voice of his school's principal Eric Eiswert, reports CBS News. The recording infuriated Baltimore and forced Eiswert to stay home for weeks while authorities unraveled the truth. Darien is to be charged with theft, stalking, interfering in school operations and retaliation against a witness.

Investigators determined he faked principal Eric Eiswert's voice and circulated the audio on social media in January. Darien's nickname, DJ, was among the names mentioned in the audio clips he allegedly faked, according to the Baltimore County State's Attorney's Office. Baltimore County detectives say Darien created the recording as retaliation against Eiswert, who had launched an investigation into the potential mishandling of school funds, Baltimore County Police Chief Robert McCullough said on Thursday. Eiswert's voice, which police and AI experts believe was simulated, made disparaging comments toward Black students and the surrounding Jewish community. The audio was widely circulated on social media.

Some folks are claiming the media got ahead of itself when this came out, but looking in the early stories you can see extensive speculation that the recordings were AI by reporters. The audio (embedded below) is slightly warbly yet perfectly crisp, and there are none of the background noises, popping plosives, handset clanking or quality gradients you'd expect from a real recording. It's like someone taped someone in an anechoic chamber at 11Khz, which is what AI voice generators sound like. Nonetheless, a lot of locals were upset by it, Eiswert received threats, and his job was very much on the line.

WJZ contacted an expert to see if that was the case.He told us in this day and age, it's easy to fabricate recordings like this one using simple tools found on the internet, so it's hard to know if the recording is legit."I don't think you can say that This is an authentic recording, and that's not to say that it's fake," University of California, Berkley Professor Hany Farid said. "Notice that I was very careful with my wording here. I don't think you can say it's real. And, I think before we say it's real, and have serious consequences if it's real, of course, we need more information."

The criminal cunning here is not quite at the mastermind level: Darien was named in the recording, was apparently the first to put it on social media after it was "anonymously" sent to him and several others, and—you might want to sit down for this, reader—he was yesterday arrested trying to get a firearm onto a plane to flee… to Houston.

Previously: AI-generated research papers are being published everywhere