Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Price for Fame....

CNN) -- A judge in Colorado sentenced the father who in October falsely reported his 6-year-old son was aloft in an escaped balloon to 90 days on Wednesday.

The judge indicated that Richard Heene will spend part of the time in jail and the rest on work release.

He is to begin his sentence after the holidays.

Heene tearfully apologized during the hearing.

"I'm very, very sorry, and I want to apologize to all the rescue workers out there and the people who got involved in the community. That's it," Richard Heene said.

His wife, Mayumi Heene, received a sentence of 20 days in jail, which is less than the 60 days agreed to by prosecutors as part of a plea deal before the hearing.

Mayumi Heene won't begin her sentence until her husband finishes his jail time so there can be someone home with their children, Larimer County Judge Stephen Schapanski said.

She also was given four years of supervised probation and must do 120 hours of public service.

Earlier, a prosecutor revealed the search-and-rescue launched in response to the incident cost at least $47,000 and said Richard Heene and his wife, Mayumi, should pay restitution to the various agencies that participated.

Last month, Richard Heene pleaded guilty in Larimer County Court to a felony charge of attempting to influence a public servant. Mayumi Heene pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false reporting to authorities.

The incident occurred in October, when a large silver balloon came loose from its moorings in the Heenes' yard and drifted over eastern Colorado. Mayumi Heene called 911 and said the couple's 6-year-old son, Falcon, was inside the craft.

Millions of people across the country watched the saga on television for nearly two hours as military aircraft tracked the balloon in the air and rescuers chased it below.

Mayumi Heene later admitted the whole thing was a hoax and that Falcon was safe in their home the whole time, authorities said.

The couple's attorneys have said that the threat of Mayumi Heene's deportation was a factor in the plea deal negotiations. Mayumi Heene is a Japanese citizen but is in the United States legally.

Court documents released in October said the couple hatched the plan about two weeks before the incident and "instructed their three children to lie to authorities as well as the media regarding this hoax."

Their motive was to "make the Heene family more marketable for future media interests," the documents said.

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