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.


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.


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.

Heene Family to Face Charges Over Balloon Boy Hoax

The family of ‘Balloon Boy’ Falcon Heene will face criminal charges for what authorities are calling an elaborate hoax. In a press conference on Sunday, Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said authorities have evidence Richard Heene and his wife staged the release of a homemade hot air balloon and subsequent report their son was missing as a “publicity stunt.”


The entire nation was glued to the story on Thursday when the Heene family reported their youngest son, Falcon Heene, was missing and might be aboard an escaped homemade hot air balloon. When the balloon finally touched down hours later, the boy was not inside. Shortly afterward, the boy was allegedly found hiding in a box in the attic of the family garage.

Speculation the entire incident might have been a hoax quickly made the rounds after it was discovered the Heene family had previously starred on two episodes of Wife Swap and had been shopping around to star in their own reality show. The hoax theory gained further weight when confused Balloon Boy Falcon Heene said on Larry King Live that “we did this for the show.”

The Heene family home was searched on Saturday by local authorities looking for evidence the ‘Balloon Boy’ drama had been staged. On Sunday, Sheriff Jim Alderden stated police believe they have enough evidence to bring criminal charges against Richard Heene and his wife for the alleged publicity stunt. The Heenes could face charges of conspiracy, false reporting, contributing to the deliquency of a minor and attempting to influence a public official.

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

Balloon Boy Throws Up on Today Show, Father Denies Hoax

While father Richard Heene was vehemently denying hoax rumors on the Today Show Thursday, balloon boy Falcon Heene was busy throwing up on camera. Since the so-called ‘Balloon Boy’ went missing yesterday after the Heene family’s experimental balloon got loose, the family has been dodging pointed accusations the whole incident was a hoax to drum up publicity.

The whole nation was caught up in the drama yesterday when the Heene family’s youngest son was suspected of having taken off in an experimental hot air balloon. For hours, viewers watched the drama live on television, fearing for the boy’s life. When the balloon finally floated to the ground with no boy inside, some began to wonder if the whole incident might be a hoax. Balloon boy Falcon Heene showed up shortly after alive and well – he’d been allegedly hiding out in the family garage.

Richard Heene, Falcon’s father, hosts an Internet series called The Psyience Detectives and the whole family appeared previously on an episode of Wife Swap. Rumor has it mom and dad have been trying to land their own reality TV show as well, even allegedly pitching themselves to Jon & Kate Plus 8 creators TLC.

In an interview on Larry King Live Thursday night, Falcon Heene landed the whole family in trouble with his confused response to the question of why he didn’t emerge from his hiding place when everyone was searching for him. The poor boy looked at his parents and said, “You had said we did this for a show.” That’s a red flag statement if we’ve ever heard one.

Balloon boy’s dad took to the Today Show Thursday morning to flatly deny rumors the family engineered the drama around their allegedly missing son to land media attention. “What do I got to gain out of this? I’m not selling anything… absolutely not. This is not some kind of hoax,” Richard Heene told Meredith Viera.

Meanwhile poor Falcon Heene was looking distinctly unwell and eventually had to throw up in a bucket halfway through the interview.

Do guilty consciences cause stomach upset?

>> Previously: Balloon Boy Found Alive Hiding in Family Garage

Balloon Boy Found Alive Hiding in Family Garage

Six-year-old Falcon Heene, dubbed the Balloon Boy in the media, has been found alive and unhurt. According to a report by CNN, the boy was allegedly discovered hiding in the family garage.

The Heene family on 'Wife Swap' - ABC

Falcon Heene was reported missing by his family after an experimental homemade balloon broke away from its tether at his home in northern Colorado. The boy’s brother had reportedly told his parents he saw the six-year-old climb into the balloon before it flew away.

After Falcon Heene was reported missing, hundreds of volunteers and emergency services workers began searching for the boy. The flyaway balloon was videotaped during its  100 mile journey across Colorado, with every frame examined for signs of the missing boy. The balloon landed intact near Colorado Springs earlier this afternoon.

>> Previously: Weird News: Missing Balloon Boy Family Appeared on ‘Wife Swap’

Weird News: Missing Balloon Boy Family Appeared on ‘Wife Swap’

A missing six-year-old child dubbed the Balloon Boy by the media appeared with his family last year on the ABC reality series Wife Swap. Falcon Heene went missing on Thursday after the family’s experimental hot air balloon floated away from their home.

The Heene Family on 'Wife Swap' - ABC
The Heene Family on 'Wife Swap' - ABC

Six-year-old Falcon Heene has been missing since a homemade hot air balloon broke free from its tether at his family’s home in northern Colorado. The boy’s family believes he may have been inside a box or basket attached to the base of the balloon. One of the boy’s brothers reportedly told his parents Falcon Heene had climbed into the balloon and untied the rope keeping it anchored to the ground.

The experimental balloon, which the family says was never meant to be flown, flew over a 100 miles before coming to rest near Colorado Springs. The boy and the alleged box attached to the balloon were not found with the balloon. The balloon is believed to have risen to a height of up to nearly 10,000 feet before floating to the ground.

One of Falcon Heene’s brothers reportedly told authorities he saw his brother fall from the balloon after it took off, according to Video footage of the balloon’s flight seems to show an object falling from the balloon while it was in flight.

The Heene family was featured in an episode of ABC’s Wife Swap last year – billed as the ‘storm-chasing family’ – and was invited back to appear on the 100th episode of the series. Some have speculated the incident is a publicity stunt, but so far authorities are taking the case very seriously. The Heene children appeared in a YouTube video (below) earlier this year making fun of their overprotective parents.

>> Update: Balloon Boy Found Alive Hiding in Family Garage