'Balloon Boy' Parents Agree To Pay $36,000 In Fines For Response
The Heenes To Pay Back Restitution Fees For The Stunt
'Balloon boy' parents have now agreed to pay $36,000 in restitution to the authorities who have responded to the 911 call reporting the couple's six-year-old son Falcon Heene to be trapped in a home-made helium balloon flying uncontrollably. Richard and Mayumi Heene pleaded guilty to orchestrating balloon boy hoax in November. Initially, the Heene family was slapped with a $48,000 bill from federal, state and local agencies who took part in the rescue of Falcon Heene. The family lawyers argued that the Heenes should pay a much smaller compensation, saying authorities wanted to make money from the incident. In the end, the amount was reduced when sheriff investigative costs were dropped.
The family was not at the hearing.
On October 15, 2009, the Heenes reported that their six-year-old son Falcon Heene was trapped in a home-made balloon that drifted off into the air from the family's yard. A host of emergency responders were dispatched to try to save the trapped boy, who was considered to be in serious danger at the time. Two Colorado National Guard helicopters were involved in the rescue mission, as hundreds of TV cameras all over the United States were live streaming the incident.
It turned out that Falcon Heene, who was later nicknamed "Balloon Boy," was not trapped inside the balloon, but was safe and sound hiding in his home. Following the incident, suspicions arose that the boy's family might have orchestrated the incident to gain publicity. The family was on reality TV in the past. After an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, when Falcon Heene said on air that the family "did [this] for the show," few had any doubts left that the balloon boy saga was nothing but a publicity stunt.
On October 18, three days after the incident Larimer County Sheriff announced that the investigation concluded that the incident was a hoax. Richard and Mayumi Heene pleaded guilty to trying to influence a public servant and false reporting on November 13. In December, Richard Heene was sentenced to 90 days in jail, while Mayumi Heene was given 20 days of jail-supervised community service.
Despite the guilty plea, Richard Heene went on Larry King Live in January, declaring that the incident was no hoax. Heene said he had to plead guilty in order to "save his family" over an alleged threat of deportation for his wife Mayumi Heene, who is a Japanese citizen.