Balloon Boy dad Richard Heene pleaded guilty in a Colorado courtroom Friday morning to a felony charge of attempting to influence a public servant, while his wife Mayumi pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor offense of false reporting to authorities, in connection with their well-publicized balloon hoax last month.
Both of their guilty pleas were accompanied by requests to travel to New York and California for work opportunities, which the judge granted.
The couple pleaded guilty, Heene’s attorney David Lane said, as part of an agreement to to avoid the potential deportation of mom Mayumi; a Japanese citizen, had Mayumi been convicted of any felony, or certain misdemeanors, she could have been deported, despite the fact her husband and children are Americans, authorities said.
The Heenes will be sentenced on December 23; the case’s prosecutor recommended probation for the parents, 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 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.
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