- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 23, 2009

DENVER — The mastermind of the “balloon boy” hoax, Richard Heene, was sentenced Wednesday to 90 days in jail for his role in triggering an international panic by falsely reporting that his 6-year-old son had floated off in a homemade flying saucer in October.

Larimer County Court Judge Stephen Schapanski ordered Mr. Heene to begin his sentence Jan. 11 and to serve the first 30 days as “straight time.”

Mr. Heene was given the option to serve the final 60 days on work release, in which he would be allowed to work during the day and serve his time at night. He also was sentenced to four years of probation.

His wife, Mayumi Heene, was sentenced to serve 20 days behind bars after her husband’s release for her role in the hoax.

Before the sentence was handed down, Mr. Heene apologized for his actions, choking up as he singled out the rescue workers who frantically tracked down the balloon as it floated 50 miles through northern Colorado. It turned out that young Falcon Heene had never boarded the craft and that the family had planned the stunt to gain publicity for a reality television show.

“I do want to reiterate 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,” said Heene, flanked by his attorney, David Lane. “That’s it.”