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thedrifter
10-06-09, 09:33 AM
Hering Won't Face Jail Time As Part Of Plea Deal

A former Marine accused of faking his disappearance to avoid returning to his unit has reached a plea deal, preventing a possible felony conviction.

Lance Hering, 24, pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge of false reporting. He will be closely supervised on probation for 18 months and serve 200 hours of community service.

Hering, an Iraq war veteran, went missing in 2006 after faking a rock climbing accident in Eldorado Canyon State Park, sparking a massive search by hundreds of volunteers.

He eluded authorities for more than two years before turning up in Washington State last fall.

Hering risked being convicted of a felony because he faked his disappearance while serving a deferred sentence for an attempted burglary when he was 18. Under the deal, prosecutors extended that deferred sentence for 18 months, which will require him to remain on probation.

Boulder district attorney Stan Garnett said Hering has paid full restitution of about $37,000, covering the cost of the search and his extradition. Garnett said that factored into his decision not to prosecute Hering, as well as his service in Iraq and willingness to take responsibility for the false report.

"This seemed like a fair balance of the law enforcement interests of the Boulder community," Garnett said.

"It wasn't about money," Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said. "The frustration with this whole thing is we had hundreds of volunteers involved in this for days."

Pelle said he thinks Hering senses the trouble he put everybody through.

"I think so and it was somewhat reassuring that we had the opportunity to talk about that," Pelle said. "I let him know what we did and the amount of work that went into it and number of people here worried about him."

Hering declined to comment Monday, although his father did speak.

"We're really happy that Lance is with us and is healthy and is ready to move forward in a constructive way," Lloyd Hering said after the hearing.

Hering was on leave from Camp Pendleton, Calif., when he disappeared. He served 33 days in the brig there before being discharged from the Marines after a hearing in December.

Ellie