‘Balloon Dad’ Insists He’s Innocent
"Balloon Boy" dad Richard Heene spent his last few days of freedom insisting he's innocent despite a guilty plea requiring him to report to jail Monday.
In a series of interviews on Friday, Richard Heene maintained the Oct. 15 incident in which he reported his son, 6, floated away from his Fort Collins, Colo., home in a UFO-shaped helium balloon was "absolutely not" a hoax. He claimed investigators from the Larimer County Sheriff's Office lied and misrepresented the facts.
Prosecutors said Heene's statements are "irritating" but don't change the fact that he pleaded guilty.
Heene says he only pleaded guilty in November to protect his family and spare his wife, Mayumi, the possibility of being deported to her native Japan. Richard Heene pleaded guilty to a felony charge of attempting to influence a public servant, while his wife pleaded guilty to misdemeanor false reporting.
Prosecutors on Friday filed an order seeking nearly $48,000 in restitution for search and investigative costs from Richard Heene.
Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden rejected Richard Heene's claims, and said Mayumi Heene "spilled the beans" under questioning days after the incident.
"It wasn't a hard interrogation," Alderden said. "She gave everything up, all of the details, the rationale, how long they'd been planning it. Richard was still uncooperative."
Richard Heene said his wife was simply going along with investigators, and said she and their son, Falcon, are still relatively new to the English language. Investigators became skeptical of the family after Falcon said in an interview with CNN that they did it "for the show."
Chief District Judge Stephen Schapanski sentenced the couple on Dec. 23.
"I am very, very sorry and I do want to apologize to all the rescue workers out there, and the people who got involved in the community," a choked-up Heene told Schapanski before the sentence was handed down.
Prosecutors indicated they are unlikely to ask Schapanski to reconsider Heene's sentence, saying they give greater weight to his guilty plea in court than his statements to the media.
"His comments and accusations, although irritating, are not violations of his probation," said District Attorney Larry Abrahamson.