A Colorado judge sentenced 'Balloon Boy' father Richard Heene to 90 days in jail and four years probation Wednesday.
Larimer County District Judge Stephen Schapanski prohibited Richard Heene from receiving any form of financial benefit, whether through the media, a book, or articles he might write steming from the balloon hoax. The judge also required him to turn over quarterly bank statements to make sure he's not making money off this incident.
Richard Heene will serve the first 30 days of his sentence in jail and then the last 60 days he will spend weekends and nights in jail so that he will be able to work during the day. The judge ordered him to begin his 30-day jail term on January 11, delaying the start of the sentence for two weeks so he can spend the holidays with his family.
The judge sentenced 'Balloon Boy' mother Mayumi Heene to 20 days in jail and four years probation. She must start her jail time no later than May 11, and has to wait until Richard Heened has completed his jail time.
Her time served is flexible — she can report to jail on 10 weekends, for example — so the children are cared for, the judge said.
Richard Heene choked back tears as he said he was sorry, especially to the rescue workers who chased down false reports that his 6-year-old son had floated away in a balloon on Oct. 15. It was a stunt designed to generate attention for a reality TV show.
"I do want to reiterate that I'm very, very sorry. And I want to apologize to all the rescue workers out there, and the people that got involved in the community. That's it," said Richard Heene. His wife did not speak at the hearing.
The Heenes' probation will be revoked if they are found to be profiting from any book, TV, movie or other deals related to the stunt.
"This, in simple terms, was an elaborate hoax that was devised by Mr. and Mrs. Heene," the judge said.
The Heenes pleaded guilty to charges that they carried out the balloon hoax, with deals that called for up to 90 days in jail for the husband and 60 days for his wife.
Prosecutors asked for the maximum sentence for the husband, saying that a message needs to be sent to promoters who attempt to carry out hoaxes to generate publicity. Chief Deputy District Attorney Andrew Lewis also asked for full restitution to reimburse authorities for the cost of investigating the hoax — an amount that could exceed $50,000.
"People around the world were watching this unfold," he said. "Mr. Heene wasted a lot of manpower and a lot of money in wanting to get himself some publicity."
He added, "Jay Leno said it best when he said, 'This is copycat game.' And people will copycat this event. (The Heenes) need to go to jail so people don't do that."
He portrayed the Heenes as growing increasingly desperate as their pitches for a reality TV show kept getting turned down by networks — and the family fell deeper into a financial hole. Lewis said the Heenes set in motion the balloon hoax in early October as a way to jumpstart the effort and get some attention.
They chose Oct. 15 because the weather was cooperating and the kids were home for school with parent-teacher conferences, allowing the Heenes to report that 6-year-old Falcon had floated away, Lewis said.
Once the parents were brought in for questioning, Richard Heene feigned sleep during the lie-detector test, claiming it was some sort of diabetic episode, Lewis said.
David Lane, Richard Heene's attorney, pleaded for leniency with the judge and said that the couple "have learned a lesson they will never forget for the rest of their lives." He also said that if someone has to go to jail, let it be Richard Heene and not his wife.
"That is his plea. That would be something of a Christmas miracle if that can occur," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.