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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.


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  • Justice-400_max50

    clobster

    over 4 years ago

    1552 Comments

    They should have sentenced them to some day fines as well.

  • Th_detective_max50

    Retleo

    over 4 years ago

    5524 Comments

    MORONS, they should NEVER profit from their stupidity!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    Bizarre story all the way around

  • Sparkle_girl_max50

    Katz

    over 4 years ago

    8260 Comments

    I agree DDemlong..and I am so glad they are having to serve time. This was a great loss of time for all that were involved in chasing that balloon and at a great expense. This should send a message to others who even think about doing such a thing.

  • Img_20111016_163737_max50

    DDemlong

    over 4 years ago

    2238 Comments

    good grief. IMO oppinion he should cover the emergency personnel expenses too

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    This was indeed a dangerous stunt. While emergency personnel were tied up on this fiasco, what if someone had died waiting for help??

  • Ba_old_glory_max50

    Jonas

    over 4 years ago

    42222 Comments

    What? And what about the $43000 incurred? I must be out of my mind! Someone help me please......

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    They got off easy...? MMM... Yeah, I agree... In the Criminal side of things....
    I don't know yet on the Civil side...
    The Sheriff got so far 43,000 in costs... But:
    His office is STILL computing costs, as we speak...

    http://policelink.monster.com/news/articles/129046-balloon-boy-pare...

    Go Sheriff, go...

  • 4076_1_sbl_max600_max50

    Grafton817

    over 4 years ago

    734 Comments

    Yeah, starting the sentence after the holidays is a joke. Glad to hear they can't make any money off of the hoax, at least for a period of time.

  • Police_link_badge_max50

    HEYSARGE

    over 4 years ago

    16726 Comments

    Well at least they were prosecuted...to many times a false report of an emergency go's with out any prosecution....The 60K is great and the rest is at least something!

  • Adp_max50

    Perl

    over 4 years ago

    1498 Comments

    Morons.
    ~Wf

  • Untitledma28839986-0002_max50

    Irishcop1961

    over 4 years ago

    50400 Comments

    They got off real easy.

  • Funny_pictures_56616_max50

    DarkBlue

    over 4 years ago

    4880 Comments

    He got off easy. He should have to pay back the Tax payers Bill for the Search & Rescue..........even if it takes him a life time.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, LOLOLOLO....Try that kind of stupid stunt again ya idiots.

  • Gcpoms_max50

    jakester

    over 4 years ago

    1148 Comments

    "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."

    Does he get to take his "binky and blankie" into his rack too? Nobody from public safety got to spend the evening home with their families when these knuckleheads pulled their publicity stunt.

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