updated 4/8/2009 11:06:20 AM ET 2009-04-08T15:06:20

Two New Jersey men who staged a UFO hoax will have more earthly pursuits, such as picking up trash from the side of the road.

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A judge fined Chris Russo, of Morris Plains, and Joe Rudy, of Chester Township, $250 each and ordered them to perform 50 hours of community service.

Authorities say the pair triggered a flurry of 911 calls when they lit road flares tied to helium balloons and released them in central New Jersey in January and February.

The men said they did it to trick people who believe in UFOs. They posted details of their exploits on a Web site on April Fools' Day.

The prosecutor charged them with disorderly conduct, saying the balloons could have interfered with air traffic and posed a potential fire hazard.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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