Balloon Boy Father Sentenced to 90 Days for Hoax
Mayumi Heene and Richard Heene
Richard Heene, the father behind the balloon boy hoax that initially transfixed TV viewers, has been sentenced to 90 days.
"I'm very, very sorry, and I want to apologize to all the rescue workers out there and the people who got involved in the community. That's it," he said, choking back tears, Wednesday in a Colorado court.
Balloon boy bill comes due: $42,000 for hoax
He will begin serving his sentence after the holidays, some of which time will be served through work release. His wife, Mayumi Heene, was sentenced to 20 days in jail, which she will serve once her husband's time is complete. This ensures that at least one parent can be available for their three children at all times, Larimer County Judge Stephen Schapanski said.
Mayumi's jail time is much less than the 60 days she and prosecutors agreed on earlier as part of a plea deal, according to CNN. She made the deal in order to avoid deportation. Mayumi is a Japanese citizen but is legally in the U.S. Mayumi must also perform 120 hours of community service.
The couple also received probation conditions that forbid them from earning any money from the stunt for four years; plus, Richard Heene must perform 400 hours of community service.
Richard and Mayumi Heene plead guilty
During the sentencing, a prosecutor estimated the search-and-rescue efforts to help find their 6-year-old son Falcon Heene cost upwards of $47,000. The prosecutor argued that Richard and Mayumi Heene should pay restitution to the various agencies involved in the Oct. 15 incident. In a stipulated agreement, the Heenes have agreed to pay restitution. A final figure for restitution must be submitted to the Larimer County district attorney's office no later than Jan. 8, at which time the defense can object and a court date will be scheduled.
"People around the world were watching this unfold," Chief Deputy District Attorney Andrew Lewis said. "Mr. Heene wasted a lot of manpower and a lot of money in wanting to get himself some publicity."
Affidavit: Heene parents "knew all along" son wasn't in balloon
Both parents pleaded guilty in November to charges stemming from the staged event. Richard pleaded guilty to a felony charge of attempting to influence a public servant and Mayumi pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of false reporting to the authorities.
The Heene family grabbed the national spotlight in October when they told authorities their son had taken off in a homemade balloon from their Fort Collins, Colo., home. Falcon was later found hiding in a box in the attic, while much of the nation worried about his safety.
Calls and e-mails to Richard Heene's attorney and Mayumi Heene's attorney were not immediately returned.
The Associated Press reported that in court, David Lane, Richard Heene's attorney, asked for leniency, saying the couple "have learned a lesson they will never forget for the rest of their lives."