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Balloon Parents Plead Guilty

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Mug shot of Richard Heene Mug shot of Richard Heene

UPDATED NOVEMBER 13TH FRIDAY

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) - The Colorado parents accused of pulling a spectacular hoax by reporting their son was aboard a runaway balloon have pleaded guilty to charges that could bring some jail time and probation.

Richard Heene pleaded guilty Friday to a felony charge of attempting to influence a public servant. Mayumi Heene pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false reporting.

Richard Heene's attorney, David Lane, says 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.

Sentencing will be later.

 (Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

UPDATED NOVEMBER 12TH THURSDAY

LARIMER COUNTY, CO (WRCB) -- Richard and Mayumi Heene, the parents at the center of October's "balloon boy" hoax, have agreed to a plea deal that will keep their family together.

Richard Heene turned himself in to the Larimer County Sheriff's Department on Thursday.

He will plead to a single felony count of attempting to influence a public servant.

Richard Heene faced two to six years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.

His wife Mayumi will enter a guilty plea on a charge of false reporting to authorities, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $750.

She is a Japanese citizen and could have faced deportation if convicted of more serious charges.

Both Heenes are expected to serve several weeks in jail as part of the deal.

The plea deal will leave the Heene's three sons in their custody.

The family grabbed the international spotlight last month when Richard Heene reported that his 6-year-old Falcon was onboard a large balloon that had escaped its tethers in the family's backyard.

The story quickly unraveled after the balloon crashed to the ground and Falcon was found hiding at home.

The family later admitted to investigators that they had staged the incident as part of a plan to garner media exposure and possibly help the family secure a TV deal.
 

OCTOBER 15TH

UPDATED 4:20PM THURSDAY

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) - Authorities are carrying out an intense ground search for a 6-year-old boy who was thought to be in a balloon that floated away from a Colorado home.
      The boy was not in the balloon when it landed, and his fate or whereabouts were not immediately clear.
      Authorities feverishly searched for any sign of the child, including in the neighborhood where he lives.
      The bizarre scene played out live on television as the balloon rotated slowly in the wind, tipping precariously at times before gliding to the ground.
     
      (Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

UPDATED 4PM THURSDAY

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) - A homemade balloon aircraft landed in a Colorado field but there was no sign of the 6-year-old boy believed to be inside.
      Rescue crews surrounded the balloon that landed Thursday afternoon in a field after two hours in the air.
      Cathy Davis of the Larimer County Sheriff's Department told reporters the balloon was owned by the boy's parents and tethered behind the family's home. She said two sons were playing outside when the older boy saw the younger one go into a compartment at the bottom of the balloon and fly away.
     
      (Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

UPDATED 3:40PM THURSDAY

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) - Balloon carrying 6-year-old boy slowly descends into Colorado field; child's fate unclear.
     
      (Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

UPDATED 3:30PM THURSDAY

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) - Guard official says helicopter crews may attempt to hoist rescuer down to balloon to reach boy.
     
      (Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

3PM THURSDAY

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) - A 6-year-old boy climbed into a homemade balloon aircraft and floated away Thursday, forcing officials to scramble to figure out how to rescue the boy.

      Live footage from a local TV helicopter showed the balloon gliding quickly through the air.
      Larimer County sheriff's spokeswoman Eloise Campanella says the device, which is shaped like a flying saucer, has the potential to rise to 10,000 feet. Sheriff's officials last saw the device floating south of Milliken, which is about 40 miles north of Denver.
      Campanella says the 6-year-old climbed into the access door and was in the airborne device.
      FAA spokesman Mike Fergus says the agency has been notified and it was unclear whether traffic controllers had picked it up on radar.
     
      (Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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