MORRIS PLAINS, N.J., April 8 (UPI) -- Two New Jersey men who admitted to a series of UFO hoaxes have been sentenced to 50 hours each of community service.
Science teacher Joe Rudy, 28, of Chester, and salesman Chris Russo, 29, of Morris Plains, said they released helium balloons with traffic flares attached from a field on the border of Morris Plains and Hanover on five occasions between Jan. 5 and Feb. 19, the (Newark) New Jersey Star-Ledger reported Wednesday.
The men published an article April 1 on Web site eSkeptic explaining how they carried out the hoax and that it was part of a "social experiment" designed to debunk UFOs.
However, prosecutors said the hoax posed a fire hazard and could have interfered with air traffic at Morristown Airport.
Rudy and Russo struck a plea deal and agreed to accept ordinance violation citations. In addition to the community service, which Municipal Judge Michael Carlucci ordered to be completed with the Hanover Recreation Commission, each man was also fined $250.
"If you were a pair of 17-year-olds, I would tell you to grow up," Carlucci told Rudy and Russo in court. "You're not 17."