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Parents of ‘Balloon Boy’ pardoned 11 years after hoax

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 12/24/2020 Storm Gifford

President Trump isn’t the only politician doling out pardons.

Richard and Mayumi Heene, the attention-craving parents of then-6-year-old Falcon Heene, whom they reported in 2009 had floated off in a balloon, were pardoned by Colorado’s governor on Wednesday, reported The Associated Press.

The hoax riveted the nation on Oct. 15, 2009, as millions of TV viewers watched in horror for more than an hour as the airborne Mylar silver saucer-shaped balloon — which was released from the family’s Fort Collins, Colo., home — crashed near Denver International Airport about 50 miles from the Heene residence.

But officials who were on the scene when the saucer hit earth found no one inside.

The fame-seeking parents’ scheme quickly began to unravel during an interview later that night. When asked why was he hiding, Falcon turned to his father and said, “You guys said that, um, we did this for the show.”

Richard Heene et al. posing for the camera: Richard Heene and Mayumi Heene in 2009. © Chris Schneider Richard Heene and Mayumi Heene in 2009.

Richard Heene and Mayumi Heene in 2009. (Chris Schneider/)

Video: Parents Of 'Ballon Boy' Pardoned (CBS Denver)


An Oct. 16 segment on “Good Morning America,” in which the family sat for an interview, featured a visibly uncomfortable Falcon vomiting.

In November 2009, Richard Heene, who with his wife appeared twice on the reality series “Wife Swap,” pled guilty to attempting to influence a public servant and was sentenced to 90 days behind bars, noted CNN at the time.

Mayumi Heene was jailed for 20 days for filing a false report.

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They were also ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution, noted The AP.

Authorities said the Heenes staged the con to gain publicity for reality TV shows they were pitching.

But Colorado Gov. Jared Polis pardoned the couple, stating that they had “paid the price in the eyes of the public.”

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“We are all ready to move past the spectacle from a decade ago,” said the Democratic governor, who in November noted that he had tested positive for coronavirus.

In 2019, the couple told ABC News that the incident wasn’t a hoax, fearing their son was aboard the balloon when they sought help.


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