The lawyer for Richard Heene expects charges will be brought against his client in the next day as investigators analyze e-mails that show Heene discussing the hoax months ago with an associate, according to The Associated Press.
"I've reached out to law enforcement in Larimer County and said these folks are willing to turn themselves in the minute you give me a phone call," lawyer David Lane said on NBC's Today show. "Do not do the perp walk for media consumption and arrest these people in full view of their children. That's child abuse. That's traumatic for kids."
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The AP reported that investigators want to question Heene's associate after e-mails surfaced showing their discussion of a balloon hoax as part of a public relation campaign for a reality show.
Robert Thomas, 25, a former research assistant of Heene, sold his story to Gawker.com and provided e-mails between him and Heene regarding the planning of a media stunt to promote a proposed reality show.
"This will be the most significant UFO-related news event to take place since the Roswell Crash of 1947, and the result will be a dramatic increase in local and national awareness about The Heene Family, our Reality Series, as well as the UFO Phenomenon in general," according to a copy of the show's proposal Thomas provided to Gawker.
The balloon, initially thought to carry 6-year-old Falcon Heene, flew across Colorado's sky Thursday, riveting millions watching on television. Then it landed without the boy, and the search for him started amid fears he had fallen out — until he was found at home.
"We certainly know that there's a conspiracy between the husband and wife, you've probably seen some of the e-mails and some of the things on the Internet suggesting that there may be other conspirators," Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said Sunday.
Alderden also said the charges against Richard and Mayumi Heene would include conspiracy, attempting to influence a public servant, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and false reporting to authorities.
Some of the most serious charges each carry a maximum sentence of six years in prison and a $500,000 fine.