Page last updated at 15:22 GMT, Thursday, 12 November 2009

'Guilty plea' in balloon boy case

Falcon Heene, pictured on 15 October 2009
Falcon Heene's alleged balloon flight triggered a media storm in the US

The US parents who triggered a major alert by claiming their six-year-old son was adrift in a helium balloon are to admit charges, their lawyer says.

Falcon Heene's mother is to admit false reporting to authorities and his father will admit attempting to influence a public servant.

Falcon's disappearance became a media drama but he was later found at home.

Police accused the family of masterminding the 15 October incident as part of a publicity bid.

The couple, who have three children, will enter their pleas at Larimer County Court on Friday, a statement from their lawyer says.

Police search

The incident in Colorado led to a media storm.

TV news crews in the US tracked the balloon as it landed

The couple reported that their young son had been carried away by a helium balloon - whose progress was then tracked by news organisations.

Police carried out an intensive search for the boy after the balloon landed about 64km (40 miles) north of Denver and was found to be empty.

But it then transpired that the child was hiding at home and days later the couple were accused of an elaborate hoax.

According to a statement from lawyer David Lane, Mayumi Heene, 45, will admit a misdemeanour and her husband Richard, 48, a felony.

Mr Lane said Mr Heene agreed to "fall on his sword" by admitting the felony charge to prevent his wife - a Japanese national - being ordered out of the US.

The stipulated sentences for both are probation, his statement said, with the possibility of up to 60 days in jail for Mrs Heene and up to 90 days for Mr Heene.

Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden had earlier suggested that the couple could have faced charges of conspiracy and contributing to the delinquency of a minor - which carry jail terms of up to six years.

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