UPDATE: Richard Heene showed up at the jail at 8:40 a.m. MST to begin serving his sentence.
Richard Heene begins serving a 90-day jail sentence, at Larimer County Detention Center in Fort Collins, Colorado, Monday for orchestrating the so-called ‘Balloon Boy’ hoax that captivated the nation last fall.
Heene – who claims he only pleaded guilty in order to keep his wife from being deported to her native Japan — must serve 30 days before he can participate in the jail’s work release program.
Heene says his wife misunderstood the meaning of the word ‘hoax’ when she purportedly confessed to authorities.
Mayumi Heene pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour charge and faces a 20-day jail term.
The Heenes must also pay restitution for the rescue effort that sent officers from two counties and other agencies scrambling. The Colorado National Guard launched two helicopters to track the balloon and possibly rescue the boy. Prosecutors estimate the Heenes owe $48,000, though Richard Heene’s attorney could provide a different estimate by a January 25 deadline.
Richard Heene also faces an $11,000 civil penalty from the Federal Aviation Administration. The balloon briefly shut down a runway at Denver International Airport.
Sheriff’s investigators suspected the family’s claims that their six-year-old son Falcon was inside the balloon were a hoax after Falcon declared in a CNN interview that “we did this for the show.” The boy hid for five hours in the garage as the drama played out on television.
Last week, Heene appeared on both Larry King Live and on the Today Show, and claimed he truly believed his son was inside the balloon when it floated away in October.