Balloon Boy Dad Moves to Home Detention

Richard Heene is pictured at his home after a short shopping trip in Fort Collins, Colo., on Monday, Oct. 19, 2009.
AP Photo/Ed Andrieski
The man who pleaded guilty to falsely influencing authorities by saying his son had floated off in a runaway balloon is completing his sentence at home.

Larimer County sheriff's spokeswoman Eloise Campanella said Wednesday that Richard Heene finished his time in jail and with a work-release unit. He was moved earlier this month to home detention and is wearing an ankle monitor.

Heene started serving a 90-day sentence Jan. 11. His wife, Mayumi, pleaded guilty to filing a false report and must serve 20 days in jail.

Sheriff's officials say the couple's report Oct. 15 that their young son had floated away in a UFO-shaped helium balloon was a hoax.

In a January television interview, Richard Heene said that he believed that his 6-year-old son, Falcon, was in the homemade balloon when it took off from the family's Fort Collins backyard.

"We had searched the house, high and low," Heene said, choking back tears on "Larry King Live." "I knew he was in the craft. ... In my mind there was no other place."

Heene said he pleaded guilty to a felony count of falsely influencing authorities to protect his wife, Mayumi, a Japanese citizen who he said may have faced deportation if convicted of a more serious crime. Mayumi Heene pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false reporting.

Heene was sentenced to 90 days in jail on Dec. 23, 2009.

Sheriff's investigators suspected the family's claims that Falcon was inside the balloon were a hoax after Falcon Heene declared during an earlier King interview that "we did this for the show." The boy hid for five hours in the garage as the saga unfolded.

Prosecutors say Richard Heene was working with a collaborator throughout the year to pitch a reality series about madcap experiments and inventions. By late September, it became clear that no deals were happening.

With their finances collapsing, prosecutors say the Heenes set in motion the balloon hoax in early October as a way to jump-start the reality TV effort and get some attention.