Balloon Boy Hoax: Heene Parents Pay Legal Restitution

By Kamika Dunlap on April 22, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Heene parents (of balloon boy hoax fame) are on the hook to pay $36,000 in legal restitution.

A judge ordered Richard and Mayumi Heene to pay legal restitution to authorities who responded to the incident, according to the Associated Press.

The Larimer County sheriff's office and other agencies originally had sought $48,000 after responding to a report of the Heenes' 6-year-old son Falcon Heene floated away on October 15 aboard a homemade helium balloon.

In general, restitution is money paid by the defendant to the victim or to a state restitution fund. Offenders may be required to return or replace stolen or damaged property. 

In the Heenes' case, legal restitution is owed for several man hours involved in the rescue effort.

As previously discussed, the balloon boy incident was captured on national television as the balloon traveled nearly 50 miles at an altitude of around 8,000 feet.

The parents pleaded guilty in the balloon boy hoax. Richard Heene pleaded guilty to attempting to influence a public servant and agreed to be sentenced to 90 days in jail.

Court records indicate the Heenes were in financial trouble and working with a production company to create a reality television show based on their lives.

Mayumi Heene pleaded guilty to one count of false reporting to authorities to avoid being deported to Japan. She faces a 20-day jail term. 

Prosecutors reduced the original amount sought, agreeing to $36,000 and drop the sheriff's request for investigative costs. Damage to a farmer's wheat crop where the balloon landed has not been calculated, according to the Associated Press.

Richard Heene also faces an $11,000 civil penalty from the Federal Aviation Administration. The balloon briefly shut down a runway at Denver International Airport.

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