Balloon boy dad begins jail sentence

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Balloon boy dad begins jail sentence

Post  Andrea on Tue Jan 12, 2010 3:14 am

The man who orchestrated a hoax that his child had been carried away on a saucer-shaped balloon, has turned himself in to begin a 90-day jail sentence.

Richard Heene pleaded guilty to attempting to influence a public servant after the October 15 saga, which riveted TV news audiences around the world.

But he now says he truly believed his six-year-old son Falcon was inside the balloon and that he pleaded guilty only to save his wife from being deported to Japan. Mayumi Heene faces a 20-day jail term after confessing to deputies and pleading guilty to filing a false report.

District Judge Stephen Schapanski said she could report to jail after her husband finishes his sentence so she could care for the couple's three boys.

Richard Heene says his wife misunderstood the meaning of the word "hoax" when she purportedly confessed. He also claims investigators presented inconsistencies to the media, and denied calling a TV station before dialling police, as authorities said he did.

The Heenes must also pay restitution for the rescue effort that sent officers from two counties and other agencies scrambling. The Colorado National Guard launched two helicopters to track the balloon and possibly rescue the boy.

Prosecutors estimate the Heenes owe $48,000. Richard Heene also faces an $11,000 civil penalty from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Heenes are amateur storm chasers who are known to take their children along as they pursue bad weather, and the family has appeared twice on the reality TV show "Wife Swap."

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