Parents in balloon case to plead guilty on some counts, lawyer says
FORT COLLINS, COLO. -- The Colorado parents who reported that their 6-year-old son floated away aboard a helium balloon will plead guilty to some charges so that the mother, a Japanese citizen, will not face the possibility of deportation, the attorney for the boy's father said Thursday.
Richard Heene will plead guilty in the alleged Oct. 15 hoax to attempting to influence a public servant, a felony, his attorney, David Lane said. Mayumi Heene will plead guilty to false reporting to authorities, a misdemeanor, he said.
Mayumi Heene's attorney, Lee Christian, did not return a call.
The Larimer County district attorney's office announced the criminal charges against the Heenes on Thursday. The Heenes have agreed to turn themselves in and are scheduled to appear in court on Friday, according to the district attorney's office.
The saga gripped a global audience, first with fear for the safety of 6-year-old Falcon Heene and then with anger at his parents when authorities accused them of perpetrating a hoax. After the boy was found safe at home, sheriff's officials contacted social workers to make sure the children were in a healthy environment.
Lane said prosecutors insisted on a "package deal" that required Richard Heene to plead guilty to a felony so Mayumi Heene could plead guilty to a misdemeanor and avoid deportation.
Lane said the Heenes' agreement with prosecutors doesn't call for removing Falcon or the couple's other two children -- ages 8 and 10 -- from the parents' custody.
Lane said he expects prosecutors to ask for jail time for both parents. He said under the conditions of the deal, Richard Heene could face up to 90 days in jail and Mayumi up to 60.