Colorado

Nov 12, 2009 8:15 AM by CNN

Balloon Boy parents to plead guilty

The Fort Collins parents in last month's notorious "balloon boy" case will plead guilty to offenses for creating a hoax that their son had flown away in a large balloon.

Richard and Mayumi Heene are to plead Friday morning in Larimer County Court, according to a statement issued by Richard Heene's attorney.

Mayumi Heene is expected to plead guilty to an offense of false reporting to authorities, a misdemeanor of the lowest level, according to the attorney.

Richard Heene is expected to plead guilty to a felony offense of attempting to influence a public servant.

Though the Heenes could receive jail time for the charges, the prosecutor has recommended probation, Richard Heene's attorney said.

The threat of deportation for Mayumi Heene was a factor in the plea deal negotiation, the attorney's statement said.

"Mayumi Heene is a citizen of Japan. As such, any felony conviction or certain misdemeanors would result in her deportation, even though her husband and children are Americans," the statement said.

"It is supremely ironic that law enforcement has expressed such grave concern over the welfare of the children, but it was ultimately the threat of taking the children's mother from the family and deporting her to Japan which fueled this deal."

Prosecutors in the case could not be immediately reached for comment.

On October 16, a large silver balloon came loose from moorings in the Heenes' yard and floated over Colorado. Mayumi Heene called 911 and said the couple's 6-year-old son Falcon was inside the craft.

Millions of people across the country watched the saga on television for nearly two hours as military aircraft tracked the balloon in the air and rescuers chased it on the ground.

Mayumi Heene later admitted the whole thing was a hoax and that Falcon was safe in their home the whole time, authorities said.

Court documents released last month said the couple hatched the plan about two weeks before the incident and "instructed their three children to lie to authorities as well as the media regarding this hoax."

Their motive? To "make the Heene family more marketable for future media interests," the documents said.

 

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