The Colorado parents of three children could wind up in jail after admitting in court they fabricated a story about their son in a runaway balloon to gain publicity for a possible reality TV show.
Richard Heene appeared before a Larimer County District Court judge first, pleading guilty to a felony count of falsely influencing the sheriff who led the rescue effort during the 50-mile balloon chase that captivated a global television audience Oct. 15.
Mayumi Heene pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of knowingly filing a false report with emergency services. Prosecutors said she had a lower level of culpability and cooperated with authorities, telling investigators the balloon launch was a publicity stunt two weeks in the making.
But even as the Heenes entered their guilty pleas, their attorneys' comments in court set off speculation of talk show appearances or other deals.
Judge Stephen Schapanski agreed to the attorneys' request that the couple be allowed to travel to New York and California to explore "employment opportunities." David Lane, Richard Heene's lawyer, declined to elaborate as he left the courtroom, and Heene waved off questions.