Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Parents of Balloon Boy Receive Jail Sentences for Media Hoax

Richard and Mayumi Heene received their sentences for their roles in the balloon hoax involving their six-year-old son Falcon. Both of them pleaded guilty last month to criminal charges. Mayumi pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of knowingly filing a false report with emergency services and Richard pleaded guilty to a felony charge of knowingly and falsely attempting to influence a public servant.

The Heenes captured the media spotlight last October after they contacted 911 to report that they thought Falcon may have flown off in a flying saucer-like balloon that Richard had constructed. TV cameras followed rescuers as they chased after the balloon in an attempt to bring him back to safety. The 6-year-old was later found in the family garage. Questions about whether the incident was a hoax came up when Falcon replied during a CNN interview that the escapade was done for a “show.” Mayumi later admitted that the balloon boy story was a hoax.

At his sentencing, Richard apologized for the incident. The judge abided by a plea agreement, sentencing him to 90 days in jail starting January 11, four years probation, and 100 hours of community services during those years. Heene is allowed to serve the last 60 days in a work release program but has to sleep in jail at night.

Mayumi is sentenced to 20 days in jail (not as much time as what prosecutors sought), four years probation, and 120 hours of community service. Mayumi’s sentence begins after her husband’s sentence is over so that one of them can remain with the kids. She can also serve her time on weekends.

Mayumi and Richard are ordered to pay restitution.

‘Balloon boy’ parents plead guilty, MSNBC, November 13, 2009
Balloon Boy Parents Richard Heene, Mayumi Heene Get Jail Time, Probation, ABC, December 23, 2009
‘Balloon boy’ parents plead guilty, CNN, November 13, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Timeline Of Balloon Boy Events, ABC 7, October 16, 2009
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