Criminal Justice

Dad in 'Balloon Boy' Hoax Gets 90 Days and Mom Gets 20 Days


The parents who falsely reported in October that their 6-year-old son was aloft above Colorado in an experimental helium balloon that accidentally launched have been sentenced to brief jail terms followed by four years of probation.

During that four-year period, ruled Larimer County Judge Stephen Schapanski, neither can profit from the incident, according to ABC News and the Associated Press.

News reports have said that the hoax apparently was conceived as a publicity stunt by Richard and Mayumi Heene, who previously appeared on a television reality show.

Richard Heene, 49, must serve the first 30 days of his 90-day sentence in jail, but will then be on work release, which requires only that he sleep at the prison, explains ABC. After he completes his jail time, Mayumi Heene, 48, will serve her 20-day sentence, so that their three children will not be left without a parent at home.

The two pleaded guilty last month, respectively, to attempting to influence a public servant, which is a felony, and false reporting, a misdemeanor. Attorney David Lane, who is representing Richard Heene, said at the time in a written statement that his client pleaded guilty in order to prevent his wife, who is a Japanese citizen, from potentially being deported, ABC recounts.

“Upon reviewing the evidence, arguably, Mayumi could have possibly ended up being deported and Richard could have proceeded to trial and had a good chance at an acquittal,” Lane stated. “This, however, would have put the family at grave risk of seeing a loving, caring, compassionate wife and mother ripped from the family and deported. That was not an acceptable risk, thus these pleas.”

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Parents Take Plea in ‘Balloon Boy’ Hoax”

ABAJournal.com: “Parents’ Bill for ‘Balloon Boy’ Stunt: $42K”

ABAJournal.com: “Boy, 6, Reported Aloft, Alone in Balloon, Found Alive at Home”

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