Balloon Boy Parents Plead Guilty to Hoax Charges

Richard Heene, father of ‘balloon boy’ Falcon Heene, pleaded guilty in court Friday to a felony charge of attempting to influence a public servant. Richard and Mayumi Heene admitted in court they falsely reported their son missing and claimed he might be inside a runaway balloon.

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Richard Heene pleaded guilty to a felony charge of falsely influencing the sheriff who led the team trying to locate the allegedly missing boy. Mayumi Heene pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of filing a false report with emergency services. The plea deal was reached partially to prevent authorities from attempting to deport Mayumi Heene, who is citizen of Japan.

The parents of the media-dubbed ‘balloon boy’ admitted in court they staged the hoax to drum up publicity in hopes of landing their own reality TV show. The Heene family appeared twice on the ABC reality show Wife Swap and were hoping to broker the publicity from the balloon stunt into their own series.

Richard Heene could face up to 90 days in jail on the felony charge. Wife Mayumi Heene could get 60 days in jail for her guilty plea on the misdemeanor charge. The Heene family may also be forced to repay a portion of the huge costs incurred by police and emergency services in the hunt for their son.

“There are financial consequences that could be significant,” District Judge Stephen Schapanski said at the court hearing.

We think in addition to a bit of jail time, Richard and Mayumi Heene should also be forbidden to profit in any way from their self-created 15 minutes of fame. No TV interviews, no book deals, no tabloid interviews, nada. It is long past time people who are willing to do anything for fame – including sacrifice the welfare of their children – got a proper kick in the face.

>> Previously: Balloon Boy Throws Up on Today Show, Father Denies Hoax

Lifetime Pulls Heene ‘Wife Swap’ Episode After Balloon Boy Mom Admits Hoax

Lifetime has pulled an episode of Wife Swap featuring the Heene family scheduled to air on Oct 29. Mayumi Heene, mother of the so-called Balloon Boy, admitted to police investigators earlier this week the whole incident was a hoax.

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Falcon Heene, dubbed the Balloon Boy in the national media, was reported missing on Oct 15. An experimental hot air balloon had allegedly broken free from the family’s home and the six-year-old boy was initially feared to be inside of it.

When Falcon Heene was later found hiding in the family garage, speculation the balloon boy incident was an elaborate hoax to drum up publicity began to escalate. The Heene family had previously appeared on Wife Swap and was allegedly attempting to land their own family-themed reality TV show.

In an affidavit filed by police authorities this week, Balloon Boy mom Mayumi Heene reportedly admitted she and husband Richard Heene had planned the incident as a publicity hoax. Richard Heene has previously repeatedly denied to both police and the media that the incident was a hoax.

“Mayumi described that she and Richard Heene devised this hoax approximately two weeks earlier… She and Richard had instructed their three children to lie to authorities as well as the media regarding the hoax,” the affidavit said.

In response to the controversy, Lifetime had pulled a follow-up episode of Wife Swap featuring the Heene family scheduled to air on Oct 29.