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'Balloon Boy' Parents Plead Guilty in Hoax Case

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Fox News: The Colorado father of a 6-year-old dubbed "balloon boy" pleaded guilty Friday to attempting to influence a public servant, a felony, in what authorities say was an elaborate hoax for publicity. His wife also entered a guilty plea.

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Richard and Mayumi Heene are accused of concocting a spectacular ruse by reporting their son was aboard a runaway balloon.

Mayumi was pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false reporting.

They will avoid more spectacle -- and a trial -- Friday by entering the pleas to charges that could bring some jail time and probation. Sentencing was set for a later date.

The pleas are part of an agreement to avoid possible deportation of Mayumi Heene to her native Japan should she be convicted in court of greater charges, Richard's attorney David Lane said. Sentencing will be at a later date.

The agreement would spare the Heenes maximum prison time. Richard Heene could get up to 90 days in jail and Mayumi up to 60, Lane said.

The pleas are part of an agreement to avoid possible deportation of Mayumi Heene to her native Japan should she be convicted in court of greater charges, Richard's attorney David Lane said. Sentencing will be at a later date.

The agreement would spare the Heenes maximum prison time. Richard Heene could get up to 90 days in jail and Mayumi up to 60, Lane said.

The Larimer County Sheriff's Office pressed its investigation after Falcon looked at his father during a cable news interview and declared: "You had said that we did this for the show."

Business associates of Richard Heene said he was trying to pitch a TV series based on science. The Heenes are amateur storm chasers and had twice appeared on the ABC reality show "Wife Swap."

Defense attorneys expect prosecutors to seek restitution for the chase. Local and federal authorities spent at least $62,000 pursuing the balloon and searching for Falcon after it landed.

Lane said he would fight any effort to recoup costs, adding authorities have yet to show the chase diverted from other emergencies.

"A bunch of cops chasing a balloon instead of sitting around is not a restitution case," he said.

The Heenes face a civil investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration. Possible penalties range from a letter of reprimand to a fine. The balloon briefly forced some planes to switch to a different runway for takeoff at Denver International Airport.

Dean Askew, a neighbor who took care of two of the boys at the request of authorities while the balloon saga unfolded, had some harsh words Thursday for Richard Heene.

"I think he took his family down a bad road, and I also think he's a coward because he didn't apologize to America and the people who came to his aid," Askew said.

Of the anticipated plea, Askew declared: "I would hope that's a crack of humanity. But with Richard, you're never really sure."

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