Richard Heene, a one-time San Diego resident, pleaded guilty Friday to a felony for his role in the so-called "Balloon Boy Hoax."
The story that a little boy floated away in a giant helium balloon was a hoax concocted to land a reality television show, investigators said on Oct. 18. The stunt was a marketing ploy by Heene and his wife Mayumi Heene, who met in acting school in Hollywood and have appeared on the ABC reality show "Wife Swap," Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said.
The couple appeared in a Colorado courtroom Friday. Richard Heene entered a guilty plea, and Mayumi Heene was expected to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false reporting.
Richard Heene was arrested in Riverside County in 1983 on two felony charges, both for assault with a deadly weapon, one with a rifle. In 1984, he pleaded guilty to one of those counts. He faced four years in prison but only served 60 days in jail. After getting out, he was given three years probation.
Heene ended up serving that time in San Diego County, living in Escondido and working as a carpenter in Encinitas. After his probation was up, the judge set aside the conviction and cleared Heene's record.
Richard Heene's attorney, David Lane, says the Friday pleas are part of an agreement to avoid possible deportation of Mayumi Heene to her native Japan should she be convicted in court of greater charges. Sentencing will be later.