NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A former host for the Discovery Channel who attempted to BASE jump from the 86th floor observatory deck of the Empire State Building in 2006 was sentenced to 100 hours of community service.
Jeb Corliss, 32, was convicted in December of reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor, for trying to parachute from the landmark building.
His jump was thwarted when police and security officers pulled him back from the 10-foot (three meter) security fence and arrested him.
"A sentence that sends a strong message is appropriate," said New York State Judge Thomas Farber. "(Corliss) is somebody who should be a role model for courage and not a poster boy for recklessness."
The charge carried a maximum sentence of one year in prison. Farber said he had received letters from a number of people, including New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, urging him to send Corliss to prison.
"I thought I was going to jail," said Corliss, who has made successful leaps from other famous buildings including the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,
Dressed in black Corliss appeared shaken and flashed a peace sign to reporters after the sentencing.
BASE jumping involves leaping off of a fixed object with a parachute. It is an acronym that stands for building, antenna, span and earth, the fixed objects from which people jump.
Two of the 12 jurors who had voted to convict Corliss and were in the courtroom for the sentencing breathed loud sighs of relief when Farber said a jail sentence was not appropriate for the misdemeanor charge.
Jurors are instructed to determine a defendant's guilt or innocence without regard to the possible penalty. Judges sentence convicted defendants at a future proceeding.
Reporting by Edith Honan; editing by Patricia Reaney