Parents of “balloon boy” pardoned 11 years after UFO hoax

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Richard and Mayumi Heene, the Fort Collins couple who perpetrated the “Balloon Boy” hoax. (Photo By RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

MYSTERY WIRE — A couple convicted of criminal charges in the “balloon boy” hoax that fascinated the country more than a decade ago were pardoned Wednesday by the governor of Colorado.

Richard and Mayumi Heene reported their 6-year-old son had floated away in an homemade UFO-shaped silver helium balloon in 2009.

Dozens of emergency responders and two Colorado National Guard helicopters scrambled to save the boy as video footage of the enormous balloon floating far above the ground made national news.

But the child was never on the balloon, and he was later found unharmed at his home in Fort Collins, about 60 miles north of Denver. Authorities said the Heenes staged the hoax to get publicity for reality TV shows they were trying to pitch.

Falcon Heene, 6, is shown outside his home October 15, 2009 in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Falcon was found hiding in the attic of his family home after his siblings had erroneously reported that he was riding aboard an experimental balloon built by his father. Media helicopters, military aircraft and the FAA all assisted in tracking down the wayward balloon, which landed in a field in Weld County, Colorado. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Eleven years later, couple has now “paid the price in the eyes of the public” and shouldn’t have to be dragged down by a criminal record for the rest of their lives, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement Wednesday.

“We are all ready to move past the spectacle from a decade ago,” said Polis, a first-term Democrat.

Richard Heene served a month in jail after pleading guilty to a felony count of attempting to influence a public servant, and Mayumi Heene was jailed for 20 days for filing a false report. They were also ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution.

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