Balloon hoax: 2 plead guilty
FORT COLLINS: The Colorado couple accused of pulling a spectacular hoax by reporting their son was aboard a runaway balloon are set to avoid more spectacle – and a trial – by pleading guilty to charges that could bring some jail time and probation.
Richard and Mayumi Heene yesterday pleaded guilty to a felony charge of attempting to influence a public servant and Mayumi to a misdemeanor charge of false reporting, according to Richard’s attorney, David Lane.
The pleas were part of an agreement to avoid possible deportation of Mayumi to her native Japan should she be con- victed in court of greater charges, Lane said. Sentencing will be at a later date.
The agreement would spare the Heenes maximum prison time. Richard could get up to 90 days in jail and Mayumi up to 60, Lane said.
Without the deal, the charge against Richard, 48, would have carried up to six years in state prison and a fine of up to $500 000 (R3.7m).
On October 15, rescuers chased a homemade balloon for 80km after the Heenes reported their six-year-old son Falcon may have been trapped inside. The Heenes later announced they found the boy hiding at home. – Sapa-AP