- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 12, 2010

FORT COLLINS, Colo. | The Colorado man who admitted orchestrating the balloon boy hoax reported to jail Monday to begin a 90-day jail sentence.

Richard Heene pleaded guilty to attempting to influence a public servant after the Oct. 15 saga that captivated a national television audience.

But Heene now says he truly believed his 6-year-old son, Falcon, was inside the balloon and that he pleaded guilty only to appease authorities and save his wife from being deported to Japan.

Mayumi Heene confessed to deputies, authorities said, and she pleaded guilty to filing a false report. She faces a 20-day jail term.

Heene wore a dark knit cap, sunglasses and a heavy jacket as he drove himself to the Larimer County jail in a red minivan. He said nothing as he got out of the vehicle and ran into the building. He later returned to the minivan to retrieve his driver’s license and went back inside.

After Heene turned himself in, Mrs. Heene drove away by herself. District Judge Stephen Schapanski said she could report to jail after her husband finishes his sentence so she could care for the couple’s three boys.

Heene told Associated Press last week that his wife misunderstood the meaning of the word “hoax” when she purportedly confessed.

“My wife’s first language is Japanese, not English,” he said. “My wife came home in tears wondering what she might have said. She opened this Japanese-to-English dictionary, and she walks up to me crying her head off, and she says to me, ‘I thought hoax meant an exhibition.”’

In other interviews last week, Heene said investigators presented inconsistencies to the media, and he denied calling a TV station before dialing 911, as authorities said he did.

Authorities dismissed Heene’s arguments.

District Attorney Larry Abrahamson said it was the Heenes and their attorneys, not prosecutors, who brought up the issue of deportation.

“We had been working with the attorneys for both he and his wife before charges were even filed,” he said. “There was a lot of discussion about what was going to happen, about how and why. We were surprised that now he’s coming out and saying that it wasn’t a hoax.”

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