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    Balloon Boy Parents Admit to Hoax to Avoid Jail

    Mayumi Heene, Richard Heene ABC

    Our long national nightmare punch line is over. Nearly.

    Balloon Boy hoaxsters Richard and Mayumi Heene have agreed to plead guilty to charges stemming from the Oct. 15 nation-mesmerizing incident in exchange for probation but no jail time or, in her case, deportation.

    Richard will plead guilty to the felony of attempting to influence a public servant, while Mayumi, who already confessed and who could have been shipped back to her native Japan should she have been convicted of a felony, will cop to a misdemeanor of false reporting to authorities.

    Richard's lawyer, David Lane, dropped the bombshell in a statement this morning. He says the couple won't formally enter their guilt until tomorrow morning. It's unclear how long the probation will last or what other terms may accompany the sentence, though Lane credited the family's desire to stay together for the duo agreeing to fess up to the charges.

    "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," 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."

    Also unacceptable, according to Lane: Richard's admission of guilt. But, ever the noble victim, it was apparently the only way to protect his family.

    "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."

    (Originally published Nov. 12, 2009, at 7:52 a.m. PT)

    ________

    Catch up on the whole Balloon Boy saga now.

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