"Balloon Boy" Parents To Plead Guilty, Get Probation

Richard and Mayumi Heene, parents of "the Balloon Boy" will plead guilty in exchange for probation. Mrs. Heene will plead to a misdemeanor and Mr. Heene to a felony.

Mr. Heene's lawyer, David Lane, issued this press release explaining that a felony would have resulted in Mrs. Heene's deportation to Japan and the prosecutors required a package deal. From his statement:

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.
As a condition of probation in Colorado, a defendant pleading to a felony can be sentenced to 90 days in jail. A defendant pleading to a misdemeanor can receive 60 days in jail as part of probation.

The judge will decide at sentencing, after reviewing the pre-sentence reports.

Lane's press release concludes with:

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.
I hope if the judge sentences both to county jail time, he allows the parents to serve the sentences sequentially, so the kids aren't deprived of both parents at the same time.
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    Makes me wonder (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by ruffian on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 01:11:00 PM EST
    if families with mixed immigration status are always aware of the possible consequences of their actions. I would think I would be, but I suppose after a long time it would not the first thing on my mind. They certainly did a bad thing, but I don't suppose they thought of Mom's deportation as a consequence. Lessons learned, I guess.

    I've got an undocumented friend... (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by kdog on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 01:49:18 PM EST
    been here since childhood, but his parents didn't do the right thing by him so he has no papers...he's well aware he can't get caught up in any mess involving any authorities.  

    I think I can smell cops from a mile away...he can smell 'em from 10 miles out...insane spidey-sense on this cat.

    But like anything else, complacency can set in I guess...not to mention plain stupidity...seems like everyday there is another story of some genius calling 911 to report their stash being stolen.  I could see the wife's immigration status not even registering on this family's radar screen.


    He should try to get legal. (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by hairspray on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 01:59:48 PM EST
    My son's wife was here for 10 years, owned a house and paid taxes on it, but got paid under the table during the years she worked.  After their marriage 4 years ago, they went to an immigration lawyer who got her the necessary papers.  They spent a little bundle, but she now has a green card and has applied for citizenship.  There were no automatic opportunities.  She had to follow rules, but very lucky.  We all had to write to vouch for her (not an arranged marriage) but she is on track now.

    Thanks for the tip... (none / 0) (#13)
    by kdog on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 02:24:28 PM EST
    but my buddy lives hand to mouth doing odd-jobs...he doesn't have any cash for an immigration lawyer right now.

    But I'll pass the info on in case he comes into some cash...


    Yep, money talks! However, I think there (none / 0) (#34)
    by hairspray on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 08:55:05 PM EST
    are some immigrant rights groups that could help him.  They had to struggle to pay the attorney, and it was always an issue.

    Trapped (none / 0) (#19)
    by lentinel on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 05:31:59 PM EST
    I had a friend who had his stash stolen by movers as he was going from one apartment to another. It was humorous only in that there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. What's he gonna say, "Hey - which one of you guys stole my stash?"

    I guess (none / 0) (#25)
    by Zorba on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 06:01:48 PM EST
    that your friend should have chosen his movers more carefully.  (I hope they weren't indulging while they were driving, though.) ;-)

    Temptation (none / 0) (#28)
    by lentinel on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 06:41:24 PM EST
    What my friend should have chosen more carefully was the hiding place.

    I did hear that the truck was seen zig zagging through traffic  and wound up in a completely wrong part of town.


    Yes, we are. (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Cream City on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 03:51:50 PM EST
    I've learned a lot in the last year of working through immigration laws to get my wonderful daughter-in-law here.  She must love my son a lot to go through all this -- and learning how to drive on the right side of the road, too.  It is the first thing her mind, believe me, when driving, for example.  She drives verrrry carefully, because if she is even stopped, it could complicate next steps with some moron in the Department of Homeland Security.  Their threats in every letter are really unnecessary. . . .

    Again, thank you to Obama, et al., for ending the "widow's penalty" a few weeks ago, so that more than 200 women around this country who came here only to lose their American husbands within two years and were in danger of deportation, too.  And they had done nothing as dangerous to others and as draining on public funding as balloon boy's mama pulled just to get publicity again.  


    Dawn? (none / 0) (#20)
    by lentinel on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 05:36:53 PM EST
    ... thank you to Obama, et al., for ending the "widow's penalty" a few weeks ago

    This is a good thing.

    A glimmer of light in this murky administration.
    Dare I hope for more....


    I know. Immigration law reform (none / 0) (#27)
    by Cream City on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 06:10:48 PM EST
    is so needed, so I also hope for change.:-)

    Btw, upon taking her cabinet post, Sebelius had ordered a hold on all those deportation orders on widows while this reform was in process.  I hope that she also has quietly slowed own the Department of Homeland Security on other sorts of cases.

    And maybe she can get to a review of the letters they send, too.  Really, must we be so threatening to wonderful people like my d-i-l who come to us with superb educations and skills and career experience elsewhere, often more advanced than here, that we so need?  (She's in sustainable energy.)


    Napolitano? Is this an HHS matter? (none / 0) (#31)
    by Steve M on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 07:15:06 PM EST
    How long has she been state side? (none / 0) (#2)
    by Fabian on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 01:41:17 PM EST
    Is it possible she could have gotten US citzenship by now?

    From what I can tell (none / 0) (#3)
    by Fabian on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 01:45:14 PM EST
    the answer is "Yes.".  She only needs to have three years residency if she is married to a citizen.

    It was entirely her choice though.  You make your choices, you face the consequences.


    Many people would ... (none / 0) (#4)
    by nyrias on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 01:49:03 PM EST
    delay their citizenship just because on a day to day basis, except the ability to vote, it makes almost no difference being a permanent resident or a citizen.

    ...almost.... n/t (none / 0) (#8)
    by Fabian on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 01:55:14 PM EST
    yeah... (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by ruffian on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 03:10:16 PM EST
    except the part where you get deported if you lie to the police about your son being aloft in a mylar balloon. Little known loophole.

    I hope .. (none / 0) (#6)
    by nyrias on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 01:49:38 PM EST
    they are also slapped with a big fine. How much public money did they spend because of their hoax?

    I'm just happy they (none / 0) (#9)
    by Fabian on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 01:59:30 PM EST
    had to pay some kind of penalty - to keep other fools from doing similar stunts.

    That's the one good thing that came of this - first it grabs the headlines and everyone goes "Oh,no! That poor child!".  Then it grabs the headlines again and people realize how easily they are fooled.  One more time, and any people who were still thinking that it was a clever stunt might realize that it was may have been clever, but also risky and foolish.


    What a bunch of maroons. (none / 0) (#7)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 01:50:43 PM EST

    I think they were morons too! (none / 0) (#11)
    by hairspray on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 02:05:07 PM EST
    However, I am getting shocked at how many truly stupid things people do that have now become felonies.  On the other hand you can walk around everywhere with lethal weapons and it is okay. Unless you are a gun owner I feel like we have very little leeway and are living in a police state sometimes. To me, county jail for a brief period, a misdemeanor and a fine and let it go.  For Gawd sakes.

    hmm .. this one is ... (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by nyrias on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 02:09:00 PM EST
    just a light felony. They are not going to get any jail time.

    Given the whole thing, they are probably punished enough, particularly if they are slapped with some big fine.


    Oh, and having Family Services (none / 0) (#16)
    by Fabian on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 03:47:50 PM EST
    breathing down their necks for while...

    Just some speculation on my part, but hardly a wild guess.


    Probably ... (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by nyrias on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 05:39:14 PM EST
    although to be fair, they are really not that bad as parents except trying to exploit the little ones for publicity sake.

    I have seen much WORSE in the news.


    They better not get jail time... (none / 0) (#23)
    by kdog on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 05:52:05 PM EST
    if this is a cage-able offense I give up!  But I won't be surprised if they do...I just hope they can do the time seperately. Like Jeralyn said...for the kids.

    And it really gets my goat when prosecutors use deportation as a weapon to get a plea...these are the good guys representing the people? Are we this vindictive as a people? I thought we were concerned for the kids...and we threaten to send moms to Tokyo?  wtf?  Bastards...but I guess thats what we pay them to do...f*ck the people who we feel f*cked us.

    I still say the cable news networks should pay any fines for them, if they had class...it was a mid-day ratings bonanza, and usually this kind of reality tv costs money to produce, they got to air the show on their fixed costs alone...do the right thing Rupert and GE!  Cut the check!


    "Are we this vindictive as a people?" (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Zorba on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 06:05:29 PM EST
    Yes.  Yes, we are.  The couple are publicity-seeking jerks, no question about it, but the news outlets and the public's insatiable appetite for sensationalism and "reality" television were complicit, no doubt about it.

    Thats what I was afraid of Zorba... (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by kdog on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 06:53:24 PM EST
    we really are aren't we:(

    I can't understand what some are all upset about...are we not entertained?  Of all the tax dollars and resources wasted on stupid sh*t every damn day we're gonna put the hammer down on these fools?  Seriously?


    Sadly, (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Zorba on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 07:09:15 PM EST
    kdog, what can we expect from a country that allows the Wall Street predators to reap huge profits from raping the people and ruining the economy, but wants blood when it comes to these misguided fools?  Sigh.  Where are our priorities?

    Bugs Bunny! (none / 0) (#15)
    by jbindc on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 03:34:02 PM EST
    I hope they get a HUGE fine.  Not only did they waste taxpayer money having all those emergency personnel looking for the kid they potentially put those people in harm's way.  They are DARN lucky no one was hurt - if someone was, I would have wanted the book thrown at them.

    What kind of people are these that they teach their kids this stuff?


    Some parents. (none / 0) (#18)
    by lentinel on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 05:26:10 PM EST
    I also hope that if they do time, it is sequential so that their children have at least one parent with them.

    My anger toward the parents is because of the horrible psychic damage they did to their son when they told him to lie. No wonder he got sick. I hope he can recover from this and that the trauma is not life-long.

    The parents led everyone on, the police, the media. They put people in potentially dangerous situations and cost the taxpayers money. But the harm that they did to their child is much worse, imo.

    By no means I am trying to defend them .. (none / 0) (#22)
    by nyrias on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 05:41:18 PM EST
    But to put things in perspective, except this episode, they are no where close to as bad as abusive parents.

    And even this, you can argue they do not anticipate the psychological effect of lying on their kids. The situation is certainly very different from long term abuse where the parent KNOWS very well what they are doing to their kids.


    Therapy (none / 0) (#24)
    by lentinel on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 05:53:40 PM EST
    There's physical abuse and there's psychic abuse.

    You feel the former is worse.
    I won't argue the point. I don't know which has the worse impact over the long term. It's lucky that they were caught this time. They're lucky their son threw up when trying to repeat the drivel they told him to say.

    You are saying that they didn't know what they were doing to their kids - and the boy in particular. But really, how dumb could they be?

    I am more inclined to say that they didn't care. They were wrapped up in their little project.


    I don't think ... (none / 0) (#38)
    by nyrias on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 03:42:21 PM EST
    there is a definitive answer to your question. It depends on the result.

    Having said that, i would have to argue that in the most cases, malice with intention is WORSE.

    Unless unintended irresponsible acts result in severe long term harm to the child (and in this case, it is debatable), at least the child will still have someone who loves and care, which is NOT the case with intentionally abusive (both physical & mental) parents.


    Felony??!?!? (none / 0) (#32)
    by Exeter on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 08:43:00 PM EST
    Give me a break! This is absurd! This was a harmless hoax!

    Yes (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Steve M on Thu Nov 12, 2009 at 09:32:04 PM EST
    Let's all do it.  What could possibly go wrong if the police are tied up responding to someone's hoax.

    I like how you think Steve... (none / 0) (#37)
    by kdog on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 11:03:28 AM EST
    thats one way to tackle the prison population issue!  I like it, I like it a lot!

    Heh (none / 0) (#40)
    by Exeter on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 07:23:07 PM EST
    He should be punished, but a felony?!?

    Well... (none / 0) (#39)
    by Exeter on Fri Nov 13, 2009 at 07:20:57 PM EST
    ...harmless in the sense that no one was harmed. I agree he did something wrong and is in line for some type of civil penalty and possibly a misdeamnor criminal charge, but a felony charge should be reserved for things far more serious.