The couple convicted in the “balloon boy” hoax where — who falsely claimed their 6-year-old son floated away in a UFO-shaped silver balloon — has been pardoned by the governor of Colorado.
On October 15, 2009, people across the world followed the journey of the homemade, helium device. It floated over 50 miles, AP News reported. The kid was later found hiding in the family’s attic.
The mother, Mayumi Heene, later confessed that they had planned the whole thing two weeks in advance and told their sons to lie about it.
Authorities said that it was to make them more marketable for a reality TV show after they appeared on ABC’s “Wife Swap”.
The couple convicted in the “balloon boy” hoax – who claimed their 6-year-old son floated away in a UFO-shaped silver balloon, prompting a chase by emergency services – has been pardoned by the governor of Colorado.
On October 15, 2009, people across the US stopped what they were doing to watch as police and National Guard helicopters were called out to follow the homemade, helium device, which floated for two hours over 50 miles, according AP News. The parents – Richard and Mayumi Heene – said they believed their son Falcon was in the balloon when it escaped.
The child was found safely hiding in the family’s attic in Fort Collins, 60 miles from Denver, according to The Washington Post. The web site Gawker then reported that the entire story was a hoax, dreamed up in hopes of turning the family into reality TV stars. The pair had previously appeared on ABC’s “Wife Swap”.
The amount of money spent during the search was never confirmed. However, NBC News reported that the cost for the two military helicopters used at the time was around $14,500.
Falcon’s parents were ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution and spent one month in jail after being convicted of attempting to influence a public servant and 20 days in jail for filing a false report, respectively, according to The Hill.
The couple initially maintained their innocence and said that they honestly believed that their son was in the balloon. They added that they only plead guilty to avoid his mother’s potential deportation to Japan as she was not yet become a US citizen, The Washington Post said.
Mayumi Heene later confessed that the parents had planned the whole thing two weeks in advance and told their three young sons to lie about it, according to police affidavits.
The family later appeared on CNN‘s “Larry King Live” and in response to Wolf Blitzer’s question about why Falcon didn’t come out when his parents were calling his name, he said that it was “for the show.”
Governor Jared Polis said in a statement: “In the case of Richard and Mayumi Heene, the ‘balloon boy’ parents, we are all ready to move past the spectacle from a decade ago that wasted the precious time and resources of law enforcement officials and the general public.”
“Richard and Mayumi have paid the price in the eyes of the public, served their sentences, and it’s time for all of us to move on. It’s time to no longer let a permanent criminal record from the balloon boy saga follow and drag down the parents for the rest of their lives.”
Polis also issued another 16 pardons and four commutations.
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