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Balloon Boy Parents Get Jail Time for Hoax

Balloon Boy Parents Get Jail Time for Hoax

Richard (R) and Mayumi Heene arrive at Larimer County district court for their sentencing hearing in Fort Collins, Colorado December 23, 2009. (AP Photo)

The AP via YellowBrix

December 23, 2009

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The parents who carried out the balloon boy hoax were sentenced to jail Wednesday and given strict probation conditions that forbid them from earning any money from the spectacle for four years.

Richard Heene was sentenced to 90 days in jail, including 60 days of work release that will let him pursue his job as a construction contractor while serving his time. His wife, Mayumi, was sentenced to 20 days in jail.

Richard Heene choked back tears as he said he was sorry, especially to the rescue workers who chased down false reports that his 6-year-old son had floated away in a balloon on Oct. 15. It was a stunt designed to generate attention for a reality TV show.

“I do want to reiterate that I’m very, very sorry. And I want to apologize to all the rescue workers out there, and the people that got involved in the community. That’s it,” said Richard Heene, whose wife did not speak at the hearing.

Larimer County District Judge Stephen Schapanski then ordered Heene to begin a 30-day jail term on Jan. 11, delaying the start of the sentence for two weeks so he can spend the holidays with his family. Schapanski allowed Heene to serve the remaining 60 days of his jail term under work release, meaning he can work during the day but spend his nights in jail.

The Heenes’ probation will be revoked if they are found to be profiting from any book, TV, movie or other deals related to the stunt.

“This, in simple terms, was an elaborate hoax that was devised by Mr. and Mrs. Heene,” the judge said.

The Heenes pleaded guilty to charges that they carried out the balloon hoax, with deals that called for up to 90 days in jail for the husband and 60 days for his wife.

Schapanski ordered Mayumi Heene to serve 20 days in jail after her husband completes his sentence. Her time served is flexible — she can report to jail on 10 weekends, for example — so the children are cared for, the judge said.

Prosecutors asked for the maximum sentence for the husband, saying that a message needs to be sent to promoters who attempt to carry out hoaxes to generate publicity. Chief Deputy District Attorney Andrew Lewis also asked for full restitution to reimburse authorities for the cost of investigating the hoax — an amount that could exceed $50,000.

“People around the world were watching this unfold,” he said. “Mr. Heene wasted a lot of manpower and a lot of money in wanting to get himself some publicity.”

He added, “Jay Leno said it best when he said, ‘This is copycat game.’ And people will copycat this event. (The Heenes) need to go to jail so people don’t do that.”

He portrayed the Heenes as growing increasingly desperate as their pitches for a reality TV show kept getting turned down by networks — and the family fell deeper into a financial hole. Lewis said the Heenes set in motion the balloon hoax in early October as a way to jumpstart the effort and get some attention.

They chose Oct. 15 because the weather was cooperating and the kids were home for school with parent-teacher conferences, allowing the Heenes to report that 6-year-old Falcon had floated away, Lewis said.

Once the parents were brought in for questioning, Richard Heene feigned sleep during the lie-detector test, claiming it was some sort of diabetic episode, Lewis said.

David Lane, Richard Heene’s attorney, pleaded for leniency with the judge and said that the couple “have learned a lesson they will never forget for the rest of their lives.” He also said that if someone has to go to jail, let it be Richard Heene and not his wife.

“That is his plea. That would be something of a Christmas miracle if that can occur,” he said.


+49
  • Car6_max50

    Ahi

    over 4 years ago

    1990 Comments

    That's an easy punishment, seems to me they got a slap on the hand and free food on the weekends, at least for the wife.

  • Mt_max50

    MountainSmoky

    over 4 years ago

    110 Comments

    90 days is a JOKE

  • Chief_instigator_max50

    excop23260

    over 4 years ago

    796 Comments

    A court got it PARTLY right. These punks should go to prison for a lot of years. AND make financial restitution. Is Mayumi a legal United States citizen? If not, send her packing with NO legitimate return here and put the children in good foster homes where they won't have to live with criminals.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    Finally the courts get it right.

  • Picture_or_video_137_max600_max50

    4theblue

    over 4 years ago

    1566 Comments

    Yeehaw!

  • Img_0338_max50

    BklynsFinest347

    over 4 years ago

    2016 Comments

    *Applauds*

  • Img_0103_max50

    LAWMANTUKES

    over 4 years ago

    6976 Comments

    "What Bone Heads"...

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    Fantastic.These morons wanted publicity ,now they have it.Some people grow up,some grow stupid.

  • Fallenherobadge-3-1_max50_max50

    aussie4

    over 4 years ago

    5328 Comments

    Great role models.

  • Tigerstripe_002_max50

    Daysend

    over 4 years ago

    902 Comments

    Thats just great

  • Battering-ram-full_max50

    OlSkoolBlu89

    over 4 years ago

    2484 Comments

    Really......!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    BOSSLADY1

    over 4 years ago

    4 Comments

    AMERICA NEEDS TO QUIT BUYING INTO THIS REALITY SHOW CRAP ALL TOGETHER! IT DRIVES PEOPLE TO DO STUPID STUFF FOR THE ALMIGHTY DOLLAR AND WASTES VALUABLE MAN/WOMAN HOURS!

  • 71476_max50

    scottydl

    over 4 years ago

    80 Comments

    I am happy to see that a condition of the sentence is to pay back all the emergency personnel that invested time and resources in this debacle. I can't even imagine the emotional toll that those officers must have felt after chasing down that balloon and finding no child, only to assume the worst that the child may have fallen out. The mainstream media was even showing photos of "an object falling" from the balloon earlier that day. Where did they come up with that when it was all a big lie?! It's a shame people must go to this length to get attention. The wife should have been required to make a public statement of some kind also.

  • Vscndsign_max50

    CAREBEAR911

    over 4 years ago

    192 Comments

    That stupid stunt interrupted my favorite soap..
    How dare them!

  • Funny_pictures_56616_max50

    DarkBlue

    over 4 years ago

    4880 Comments

    Keep in mind all the REAL emergencies that had to wait a longer period of time due to these Morons. They should exam ALL Emergency calls during this time frame and see if a delayed response time possibly caused further injury or Death or even undue pain & suffering to others and charge these dirt bags accordingly !!

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