Balloon Boy's Parents to Plead Guilty
Richard and Mayumi Heene, the parents of Balloon Boy, will plead guilty on Friday to certain charges stemming from their Oct. 15 hoax, their lawyer announced in a statement Thursday.
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Richard Heene will plead guilty to a felony charge of attempting to influence a public servant, while Mayumi Heene will plead guilty to false reporting, a misdemeanor, attorney David Lane said.
Though the Heenes could still receive jail time, the plea deal stipulates a probation sentence for both charges and avoids heavier charges against Mayumi Heene, which could lead to deportation to her native Japan.
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"Upon reviewing the evidence, arguably, Mayumi could have possibly ended up being deported and Richard could have proceeded to trial and had a good chance at an acquittal," the statement read. "This, however, would have put the family at grave risk of seeing a loving, caring, compassionate wife and mother ripped from the family and deported. That was not an acceptable risk, thus these pleas."
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TVGuide.com's calls to Colorado's Larimer County's D.A. office were not immediately returned.
Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden previously suggested charges that carried a six-year maximum jail sentence for each parent and a $500,000 fine.
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The Heenes initially told authorities their 6-year-old son, Falcon, was trapped inside a helium balloon that took off in the Colorado skies. The boy was found safe at home and suspicions were raised after Falcon told his father on a live TV interview that they "did this for a show." While Mayumi Heene later told authorities the whole saga was faked to make the family, who's appeared on Wife Swap, more marketable, Richard Heene has publicly maintained that the ordeal was not staged.
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Lane said Richard Heene's guilty plea is not an admission of guilt.
"Unfortunately, the prosecutors insisted upon a package deal where Richard would have to fall on his sword and take a felony plea despite the fact that he made no incriminating statements to law enforcement and Mayumi's statements could not be used against him."