'Balloon boy' episode a hoax, admits mother

Marketing trick

Mayumi Heene with two of her three boys, Falcon (centre) and Ryo. AFP

Mayumi Heene admitted to deputies that she and her husband Richard “knew all along that Falcon was hiding in the residence” in Fort Collins, according to an affidavit used to get a search warrant for the home. She allegedly told investigators the incident was a hoax meant to make them more marketable to the media.

“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 this hoax,” the affidavit released on Friday said.

Richard Heene has denied a hoax. His lawyer David Lane said on Friday that he was waiting to see the evidence in the case. “Allegations are cheap,” Lane said.

Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden has said he will recommend charges against the Heenes including conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, making a false report to authorities, and attempting to influence a public servant. The most serious charges are felonies and carry a maximum sentence of six years in prison.

Alderden said officials also would be seeking restitution for the costs of the balloon chase, though he did not provide a figure. His office has said it will likely be next week before it forwards its findings to prosecutors to decide on charges.

In frantic calls to a TV station, 911 and federal aviation officials, the Heenes reported that they feared Falcon was in the home made, saucer-like balloon when it was accidentally launched from their back yard last week. Sheriff’s deputies questioned the parents separately on October 17, two days after the flight. Mayumi Heene told authorities “she and Richard Heene had lied to authorities on October 15, 2009 (the day of the flight),” the affidavit said.

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