The attention-seeking parents of the Colorado “balloon boy” must not have had their thinking caps on last month when they told police their son was aboard a runaway hot air balloon. But when their misadventure got them hauled into court, they suddenly smartened up.

On the advice of counsel, Richard and Mayumi Heene worked out a plea agreement that on Nov. 13 had them confess to different crimes. The father is now a felon, but the mother pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false reporting. Why? Because she is a Japanese citizen, and if she had pleaded guilty to a felony, a collateral consequence would have been deportation.

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