Balloon Boy Hoax: Heene Parents Get Jail, Legal Restitution

By Kamika Dunlap on December 23, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The parents who pulled off the balloon boy hoax, Richard and Mayumi Heene were sentenced to jail time and must pay legal restitution.

ABC News reports that Judge Stephen Schapanski sentenced Richard Heene to 90 days jail time and four years probation. He must serve 30 days in jail beginning January 11, 2010, and 60 days may be served at night, if he is working during the day.

The judge ordered that Richard Heene could not profit directly from his crime. He was barred from receiving any financial gain from TV shows or articles, for example, stemming from the incident.

His wife, Mayumi Heene, was sentenced 20 days jailtime because the judge said she was "less involved" in the hoax.

The judge ordered the couple to pay as-yet unspecified legal restitution

As previously discussed, the parents of Falcon Heene, a 6-year-old boy reported their son floated away on October 15 aboard a homemade helium balloon.

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

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.

The couple plead guilty to charges in order to keep the family together.

Richard Heene pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to influence a public servant, a class 4 felony. The penalty ranges between two to six years in the Department of Corrections and a fine of $2,000 to $500,000.

Mayumi Heene pleaded guilty to one count of false reporting to authorities, a class 3 misdemeanor. The penalty is up to six months in county jail and a fine of $50 to $750.

Mayumi Heene is a Japanese citizen and possibly faced deportation if she was convicted of more serious charges.

The Heenes are also on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in legal restitution over their stunt. Lastly, the Federal Aviation Administration has also proposed fining the couple $11,000 for launching an unauthorized aircraft.


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