April 21st, 2010
12:42 PM ET

Balloon hoax dad must pay restitution

The man who pulled a hoax by saying his 6-year-old son was drifting over Colorado in a balloon must pay $37,000 in restitution, a judged ordered.

As Richard Heene completed his 90-day sentence with home detention this month, his wife, Mayumi Heene, began serving her 20-day sentence on weekends, according to a jail official. Her time is not spent in a jail cell, but on a Saturday and Sunday work detail, a probation official said.

Prosecutors said the couple staged their son's disappearance last October to generate publicity for themselves because they wanted to star in a reality television show.Richard Heene pleaded guilty in November to a felony count of attempting to influence a public servant, while she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of making a false report. The judge also sentenced the couple to four years probation.

Richard Heene initially told authorities that his son, Falcon, was drifting over eastern Colorado in a homemade balloon that had come loose from its moorings in the family's backyard. Authorities raced to track the balloon while puzzling over ways to rescue the boy inside. Their efforts received widespread news coverage that riveted people around the nation.

When the balloon came to rest in a field, however, Heene's son was not inside. The boy later was found hiding in the family's house.

That night, during an interview with CNN's "Larry King Live," the boy gave authorities what Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden called an "Aha! moment."

"You guys said we did this for the show," Falcon said in the interview after his father asked him why he had not come out from hiding when he heard his parents calling for him. Later in the interview, the Heenes said their son was simply confused.

Authorities said Falcon's mother later admitted that the whole thing was a hoax and that Falcon was safe in their home the whole time. - CNN's Kara Devlin contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Justice • U.S.
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. Lamech Change

    Paying or not paying is not a big deal. Sometime we need people like him in our society to help us know how to deal with such situations in future. That should be taken like a drill! He is a great man to have sat down and come up with that crazy idea. Give him some credit people!

    April 21, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. VLK

    I'm glad they are serving time and are assessed a fine. But it's the kids I worry about. Can you imagine the time and energy it took to perpetrate this hoax and then instruct your kids to lie. Now the poor son, who blurted out the truth, may be struggling with the fact that he helped send Mom and Dad to jail. Is anyone looking at the parenting skills of these people?

    April 21, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jiminy

    "Well, that should have been his punishment. Instead you decided to send him to jail and remove his income and hinder his ability to pay any restitution.
    How do you expect him to pay this now?"

    Did he actually have a job before he was incarcerated? Aside from aspiring reality tv person?

    April 21, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Leslie

    I agree with Dean! That would be so funny! I think I would literally die laughing.

    April 21, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. marie

    Reality TV is for people who do not have lives.

    If you spend all your time watching the Kardashians, the Jon and "whatever' show, etc., you need to get off the couch and walk around the block.

    Your neighbors are a hell of lot more interesting than these characters. Besides, you can make friends, have enjoyable chats and/or fights with them and live life to the fullest.

    If you don't like your neighbors, then move closer to your relatives. The fights and chats with them are just as much fun.

    April 21, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Robert

    $37,000??? That's it? I would guess the true cost is considerably higher. The sad thing is, I'll bet the fool still does not get it!

    April 21, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Michele

    "Well, that should have been his punishment. Instead you decided to send him to jail and remove his income and hinder his ability to pay any restitution.
    How do you expect him to pay this now?
    Posted by: AmericanD"

    AmericanD, did you not read that his sentence is served on hoem detention (house arrest)? Typically that means if they have a job, they can go to work and go home, that's it. Not in jail. So it doesn't remove income or hinder his ability to pay restitution. They actually did a good job of making him pay for his crime and still be able to provide for his family and pay restitution. An example of the legal system actually getting it right!

    April 21, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rachel Green

    That's it??!! I'm sure it cost more that a measly $37k for all the drama this idiot brought on. I'm sure some other idiot will make a movie about this crap & then he can pay his restitution tab. What is up with our society? What happened to common sense & morals?

    April 21, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Fed Up With Morons & Bad Parenting

    Based on the hoax and the way their children act in the videos online it is obvious that these people are not qualified to be parents. True Justice would be to also remove the children from the home & deport the Mother. It is time we stop putting up with crap like this and send a message to those that would follow in their footsteps.

    April 21, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. silk

    Well, good luck for getting the money from this family. But at least the justice does exist in this case. Maybe one day Heene actually goes out and find a real job, he'll be able to pay the amount in installments, but don't get your hope high.

    April 21, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
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