Balloon boy dad Richard Heene begins jail sentence today

Posted By: The Ski Channel on January 11, 2010 7:12 am

Fort Collins, Colorado resident Richard Heene, the father of famed “balloon boy” Falcon Heene, pleaded guilty to staging the incident as a hoax, and will begin his 90-day jail sentence today.

To refresh the memories of those who had put this story out of their minds, back in October the world watched as a giant man-made balloon floated through Fort Collins, Colorado and beyond. We all thought Richard and Mayumi Heene’s six-year-old boy Falcon was inside. We thought that because that’s what the Heene’s told us.

When the balloon was recovered, there was no boy inside. The world assumed the worst–that he had fallen out mid-flight and perished. However, we then learned he was never in the balloon, he was hiding in the family attic the whole time. The story got more interesting when little Falcon Heene told reporters he was told to hide in the attic “for a show”. Richard and Mayumi Heene were known to crave publicity and fame, and this seemed like a crafty plot to garner heavy media attention and perhaps form a reality TV show.

Richard Heene pleaded guilty to staging the event. Although he pleaded guilty, he still claims he truly believed his son was in the balloon, as he told Larry King. He pleaded guilty to assure his Japanese wife would not be deported.

He also claims now that when his wife told authorities the incident was a “hoax”, she didn’t know what she was saying. “My wife’s first language is Japanese, not English,” Richard Heene said. “My wife came home in tears wondering what she might have said. She opened this Japanese-to-English dictionary, and she walks up to me crying her head off, and she says to me, ‘I thought hoax meant an exhibition.”

However, Sheriff Jim Alderden is not buying the story. “The interview was much more than, ‘Mayumi, is this a hoax?’ and she admitted to it. She went into the details of it. So, clearly she has a better understanding of the English language than Richard Heene would have you believe.”

Additionally, District Attorney Larry Abrahamson says that the Heenes and their attorneys were the ones to bring up the idea of Mayumi’s deportation,  not any law enforcement authorities.

Whether or not this incident was truly a hoax or not makes no difference in the fact that Richard Heene will begin his 90-day jail term today. After 30 days, he can begin the work-release program. Mayumi Heene faces 20 days in jail. The family must also pay over $50,000 (estimate) in damages from the balloon incident.