Balloon Boy's parents expected to plead out

heenefamily_290.jpgRichard and Mayumi Heene, the parents of "Balloon Boy" Falcon Heene, are likely to plead guilty to wild goose chase-related charges in a Colorado court Friday.

The Heenes, you'll recall, helped create a media frenzy last month when a homemade weather balloon of theirs took off, supposedly with Falcon somehow aboard. After several hours of breathless cable news coverage, Falcon was found hiding in an attic and the Heenes were accused of faking the whole incident.

David Lane, who represents the Heenes, tells NPR that the couple has reached a settlement with prosecutors in which Richard Heene will plead guilty to a felony charge of attempting to influence a public servant. Mayumi Heene will plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of filing a false report. Prosecutors in Larimer County, Colo., however, haven't confirmed the deal.

Lane says Mayumi Heene is a Japanese citizen and could have faced deportation had she been convicted of a felony, but her husband agreed to take a felony rap to keep that from happening. "It is supremely ironic that law enforcement has expressed such grave concern over the welfare of the children," Lane says in a statement. "But it was ultimately the threat of taking the children's mother from the family and deporting her to Japan which fueled this deal."

When the balloon landed with no one inside, suspicion quickly fell on the parents for perpetrating a hoax, purportedly in an attempt to drum up interest in a reality show starring the Heenes and their three children. The family twice appeared on ABC's "Wife Swap" in the 2008-09 season and had approached TLC and other networks about producing a show about them.

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