Balloon Boy Parents to Plead Guilty

Richard Heene and Mayumi Heene both return to the family's home in Fort Collins,, Colo., late on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2009. The story that 6 year old Falcon Heene had floated away in a giant helium balloon was a hoax concocted to land a reality television show, authorities said Sunday AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Richard and Mayumi Heene will plead guilty Friday to charges stemming from last month's Balloon Boy hoax, the couple's lawyer said.

The Larimer and Jackson, Colo. county District Attorney offices formally filed charges Thursday.

Mayumi Heene will plead guilty to falsely reporting to authorities, a misdemeanor. Richard Heene's charge - attempting to influence a public official - is a felony. The deal stipulates a probation sentence for both charges.

The deal avoids more serious felony charges against Mayumi Heene, such as perjury, that could result in her deportation to Japan.

According to the DA office's release, Mayumi Heene could face six months in county jail and a fine of $50 to $750. The penalty for Richard Heene could be 2-to-6 years in prison and a fine of $2,000 to $500,000.

"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," lawyer David Lane said. "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."

CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen said the deal "makes sense for both sides, especially given the cost of a trial and the risk that the mother involved here would have been deported and separated from her children. So I'm not surprised at all that this ends with a whimper and not a bang."

Cohen notes the judge doesn't have to accept the plea deal and could alter its terms.

According to authorities, the couple of their son, 6-year-old Falcon Heene, who they reported had floated away in a homemade balloon - an incident that was captured on national television as the balloon's journey spanned nearly 50 miles at an altitude of around 8,000 feet.

No one was found in the balloon , prompting fears that the boy had fallen out. However, he was later found safe at home and told authorities he was hiding in an attic.

The story quickly began to unravel in subsequent television interviews, in which Falcon said he was hiding out Associates of Richard Heene, who appeared on ABC's "Wife Swap," began detailing the self-described scientist's .

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