The Colorado parents who apparently orchestrated a massive hoax involving a runaway helium balloon and their young son last month will plead guilty to charges, according to their lawyer. A statement from lawyer David Lane said, "Richard and Mayumi Heene will enter pleas of guilty in Larimer County Court.... Mayumi Heene will plead guilty to False Reporting to Authorities, a class 3 misdemeanor (the lowest level misdemeanor in Colorado law) with a stipulated sentence of probation. Richard Heene will plead guilty to Attempting to Influence a Public Servant, a class 4 felony. The prosecutor has stipulated to a sentence of probation."
News that a young boy was trapped in a runaway balloon over Colorado gripped the world—but it turned out little Falcon Heene was hiding in his family's garage (and in a box) all along. During an interview with CNN, Falcon said to his parents, "You guys said that we did this for a show," prompting an investigation and strong words from law enforcement, who said the Heenes, already fan favorites from the ABC reality show Wife Swap, had been angling for a reality program and saw the balloon hoax as a publicity stunt.
There may be jail time of up to 90 days for Richard Heene and up to 60 days for Mayumi Heene as well as probation. Lane added, "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. Threatening to stretch what is essentially a low level misdemeanor into a felony prosecution followed by deportation upon conviction simply to make a point shows a complete and utter disregard for the true best interests of these children."