Richard Heene and his wife Mayumi will plead guilty in a Colorado courtroom Friday morning to charges stemming from their well-publicized balloon hoax last month.
“He feels like he’s got to do what he’s got to do to save his wife from being deported,” Heene’s attorney David Lane said.
The couple are entering their pleas Friday, Lane said, as part of a pact to to avoid the potential deportation of mom Mayumi to her native country of Japan, should she be convicted. If Mayumi, a Japanese citizen, had been convicted of any felony, or certain misdemeanors she could have been deported, despite the fact her husband and children are Americans, according to authorities.
Dad Richard, 48, will to plead guilty to a felony offense of attempting to influence a public servant, according to Lane, while mom Mayumi is expected to plead guilty to a misdemeanor offense of false reporting to authorities.
The prosecutor in the case has recommended probation for the suspects, though they could receive jail time — as much as 90 days for Richard, and 60 for Mayumi — in connection with the charges, Lane said. Had they not cut a deal, the maximum penalties would have been up to six years in state prison and a fine of up to $500,000 for Richard, and a six-month jail term, a maximum $750 fine and the aforementioned deportation threat for Mayumi.
A worldwide audience watched October 15, as the homemade helium balloon soared 7,000 feet over eastern Colorado for just under two hours; it was revealed during the dramatic incident that the boy’s family had gained a taste of fame on the ABC reality show Wife Swap.