The lawyer for parents Richard and Mayumi Heene says they will plead guilty tomorrow to charges connected with the infamous Oct. 15 "balloon boy" incident in Colorado.
NPR's Jeff Brady reports that:
Denver lawyer David Lane says in a written statement that tomorrow morning Richard and Mayumi Heene will appear in Larimer County Court. The statement says Richard Heene will plead guilty to a felony charge of attempting to Influence a public servant. The mother, Mayumi Heene, will plead guilty to a misdemeanor of making a false report to authorities.
The lawyer, David Lane, says the mother is a citizen of Japan and could have faced deportation if she pleaded guilty to a felony. He says the father agreed to "fall on his sword" to keep that from happening.
Neither the Larimer County DA's office nor the sheriff's office has confirmed the settlement. If approved, the father could face up to 90 days in jail and the mother up to 60 days.
Lawyer Says 'Balloon Boy' Parents Will Plead Guilty Tomorrow
As TheDenverChannel.com writes:
Two days after the Oct. 15 flying saucer-shaped balloon chase riveted TV audiences worldwide, Mayumi Heene allegedly admitted "that she and Richard Heene had lied to authorities," Larimer County sheriff's investigator Robert Heffernan wrote in a sworn statement supporting a warrant to a recent search of the family's home.
You'll likely recall that when the Heene's homemade weather balloon took off into the sky, it was first reported by local authorities that the family thought six-year-old Falcon Heene was aboard. It turned out he was home all the time.
In other "balloon boy" related news, the local district attorney has decided not to pursue charges against Sheriff Jim Alderden for disclosing that "county social service workers were investigating the (Heene) family," The Coloradoan reports.
Update at 7:25 a.m. ET. Via NPR's Jeff Brady, here is attorney Lane's statement:
On November 13, 2009, at 8:30 a.m., Richard and Mayumi Heene will enter pleas of guilty in Larimer County Court.
Mayumi Heene will plead guilty to False Reporting to Authorities, a class 3 misdemeanor (the lowest level misdemeanor in Colorado law) with a stipulated sentence of probation.
Richard Heene will plead guilty to Attempting to Influence a Public Servant, a class 4 felony. The prosecutor has stipulated to a sentence of probation.
The stipulations carry the possibility of up to 90 days in jail for Richard and 60 days for Mayumi along with the probation. After pleas are entered the sentencing will be continued for approximately one month for the preparation of pre-sentence reports.
Mayumi Heene is a citizen of Japan. As such, any felony conviction or certain misdemeanors would result in her deportation, even though her husband and children are Americans. Because Mayumi, while being questioned by law enforcement made certain statements which the prosecutor could use against her to possibly obtain a felony conviction and thus, her deportation by the federal government, she is avoiding that possibility with this plea.. Unfortunately, the prosecutors insisted upon a package deal where Richard would have to fall on his sword and take a felony plea despite the fact that he made no incriminating statements to law enforcement and Mayumi's statements could not be used against him. Given the marital privilege it is doubtful Mayumi could have been called as a witness against Richard and the rules against hearsay would have prevented the showing of the videotaped statement she made against Richard. Upon reviewing the evidence, arguably, Mayumi could have possibly ended up being deported and Richard could have proceeded to trial and had a good chance at an acquittal. This, however, would have put the family at grave risk of seeing a loving, caring, compassionate wife and mother ripped from the family and deported. That was not an acceptable risk, thus these pleas.
It is supremely ironic that law enforcement has expressed such grave concern over the welfare of the children, but it was ultimately the threat of taking the children's mother from the family and deporting her to Japan which fueled this deal. Threatening to stretch what is essentially a low level misdemeanor into a felony prosecution followed by deportation upon conviction simply to make a point shows a complete and utter disregard for the true best interests of these children.