No Jail for Empire State Building Stuntman

 A judge rejected the requests of the police commissioner on Thursday and refused to jail a California stuntman who tried to parachute off the Empire State Building.

State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber sentenced former television show host Jeb Corliss to three years probation and 100 hours of community service. He also said Corliss, of Malibu, could do the probation and community service in his home state.

Corliss was arrested April 27, 2006, when he tried to parachute from the 86th-floor observation deck of the 102-story Manhattan landmark. Security guards thwarted his stunt when they grabbed and held him through the bars of a fence he had scaled.

When arrested, Corliss, who's in his 30s, was disguised in a mask and a fat suit that cost him $15,000. Under the suit he wore a black jump suit and a parachute. He also wore a helmet topped with a camera so he could record his jump.

After his trial on a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment, jurors deliberated a day and a half before convicting him. He faced up to a year in jail.

The judge said Thursday that he received a two-page letter from police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and a six-page letter from the owners of the Empire State Building asking for a jail sentence for Corliss.

"I simply don't find it warranted in this case," the judge said.

He noted that the offense was a misdemeanor, that Corliss had no criminal record and that the prosecution had offered him a non-jail plea deal before trial.

He said that in his years as a prosecutor and a judge trying murder, rape and other cases he had never received a letter from a high-ranking police official asking for a specific kind of sentence.

"From some of the letters I received, you would have thought the defendant tried to commit a terrorist act," the judge said.

Corliss did not speak to the court when given a chance. Outside court he said, "I think the judge is a wonderful man. I wish I could have met the prosecutor Mark Crooks and the judge under different circumstances. I think they're good people."

Corliss, former host of the Discovery Channel's "Stunt Junkies" program, claims to have made more than 1,000 safe BASE (building, span, antenna, earth) jumps from structures and cliffs in the United States, Japan, Russia, France and Malaysia.

The Discovery Channel dropped Corliss after his arrest, saying it was disappointed at "his serious lack of judgment and his reckless behavior." He said last month that he had expected to earn $250,000 as the show's host in 2007.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us