Balloon Boy Parents Sentenced to County Jail Time

Balloon Boy parents Richard and Mayumi Heene were each sentenced to stints in the county jail today as conditions of probation for perpetuating the hoax that transfixed the nation a few months ago. (In Colorado, a defendant can be sentenced to up to 90 in days as a condition of probation for a felony and 60 days for a misdemeanor.)

Richard Heene, who last month pleaded guilty to a felony charge of attempting to influence a public servant, will have to serve 30 days of the sentence full-time in the Larimer County jail, with the remaining 60 days served on work-release. Larimer County Court Judge Stephen Schapanski said Heene would start serving the jail sentence on Jan. 11. "I will delay this until after the holiday in fairness mostly to his children,"

Mayumi Heene, who helped hatch the scheme and who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false reporting, was sentenced to 20 days of jail, to be served through a program that allows her to perform jail-supervised community service a couple days a week and return home at night.


The prosecution is also seeking $42,000. in restitution. Mrs. Heene agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor that would allow her to avoid deportation. She is a Japanese citizen lawfully residing in the U.S. At least she won't have to sleep at the jail, and the kids will always have one parent at home. Bottom line: Good result by their lawyers.

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    They got off (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 02:44:01 PM EST
    well, him with only a third of the possible time in jail, and her with getting to go home at night for the kids.

    But these two alleged adults are probably hopeless.  So let this societal message tell their kids that they are getting an upbringing that has warped them, with their antisocial youtubes.

    And may any benefit to come from this be that the child welfare system keeps an eye out for those kids.  The sentence ought to have included something along those lines.

    MSNBC Live Streamed the sentencing (none / 0) (#1)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 12:14:43 PM EST
    I watched most of it. The prosecutor objected to Mr Heene's request to begin his 30 day full-time jail sentence until Feb 1st so he could complete the contracts he was working on. The judge gave him a Jan 11th date to turn himself in.

    He is also expected to maintain at least 30 hours a week of employment, a reasonable house for his family, 100 hours a year of community service, and pay restitution (a financial agreement yet to be determined). Mighty big time out IMHO.

    Heene got more time than Polanski did. (none / 0) (#2)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 12:33:00 PM EST

    Once again... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 01:16:26 PM EST
    the punishment is worse than the crime, the cure worse than the disease.  

    All I want for Christmas is an evolutionary leap when it comes to crime & punsihment...we are still stuck in the dark ages of dungeons.

    Sorry you feel that way, kdog (5.00 / 4) (#5)
    by rdandrea on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 01:23:45 PM EST
    The minute helicopters were dispatched, lives were put at risk.

    This might have started as a simple hoax, but it could have killed someone.


    Sorry you feel that way too... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 01:52:55 PM EST
    rdandrea...30 days and nights is not an appropriate response to the "crime", imo.  

    But, it didn't kill anyone (none / 0) (#7)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 01:54:32 PM EST
    and to punish people for "what might have happened" is completely against reasoned judgment.

    It was a waste of resources (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by cawaltz on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 02:06:33 PM EST
    The use of those helicopters cost money and they would not have been utilized if this family had not deliberately set out to con themselves onto a reality TV show.

    Just for fun . . . . (5.00 / 4) (#28)
    by nycstray on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:11:31 PM EST
    attempted murder that doesn't kill anyone . . . "what might have happened" argument still stand?  ;)

    I think it's more reasonably labeled as (none / 0) (#13)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 02:08:06 PM EST
    endangering others, or some such.

    Like driving drunk, driving recklessly, shooting a gun up in the air, etc.


    Right (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Steve M on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 02:12:24 PM EST
    awfully hard to prevent drunk driving, random gunfire, etc. if you only get punished the 1% of the time you kill someone.

    Do you believe (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by jbindc on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 02:59:30 PM EST
    anyone should ever be punished for the consequences of their actions (i.e., when they commit a crime)?

    Of course I do... (none / 0) (#29)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:12:39 PM EST
    Just not down with the archaic way we punish.  And the degree to which we punish.  And the joy some of us seem to take in punishing.

    Like the chains and cages I'm always ranting and raving about...unless you're dealing with a homicidal maniac or serial rapist, they aren't necessary.

    As for the 42 grand...I wanna see the state's receipts before I call that just, no receipts its excessive. Was this a Pentagon 500 dolla hammer-style police chopper or what?


    I posted their estimates yesterday (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by jbindc on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:20:47 PM EST
    How much do you think it costs for helicopters, OT and equipment for several jurisdictions of LEO's to follow a balloon for miles and do a search and rescue?  Personally, when I read the $42,000 estimate, I thought it was too low.

    But honestly, you think these crackpots who potentially put multiple peoples's lives in danger (rescuers, innocent people who might be in their path, and oh yeah, people who couldn't get emergency care in time because they were off helping these idiot parents) don't deserve to be punished?

    Boo hoo.  They're getting a few days in jail.  I'll reserve my sympathy for the kids who have to live with these fools and people who actually deserve it.


    "Few days in jail" (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by MKS on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 04:57:15 PM EST
    That could be enough to get raped and get AIDS.....

    What the law-and-order group fails to realize is just what a house of horrors jails are....

    If the injury was a loss of public funds, make the offenders pay it back.  

    If you want to punish, then make them perform very undesirable public service such as picking up garbage.  But some think that a just punishment is all the hell that comes with being in jail.  It really is quite ghoulish and represents a desire for vengeance....

    Jail should be the last resort for those who represent an ongoing risk to society.  Decades from now we will look back at how we treat offenders, and be ashamed.


    That's how I look at it too (none / 0) (#66)
    by cawaltz on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 09:49:54 PM EST
    It doesn't work much for rehabilitation as it was intended so instead it should be used to house the miscreants who society needs to be protected from. People like this family definitely made a poor moral judgement but it is nowhere in the same ballpark as people who rape, kill, or inflict bodily harm on others.

    One way to look at it is... (none / 0) (#34)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:26:44 PM EST
    the police chopper chasing the balloon wasn't flying over your house with a heat sensor looking for grow lamps...the family might have saved some lives.

    Sending the police on a wild goose chase is a community service in some circles.

    And if it really cost the state an estimated 42k, I betcha I coulda found a guy to do it for 15k. The fam shouldn't be held responsible for government inefficiency too, should they?


    Got stats on how much time (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by nycstray on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:30:02 PM EST
    choppers are flying overhead looking for grow lamps with heat sensors?

    Heh. (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Fabian on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:40:56 PM EST
    My mother has LED grow lights now - energy efficient, low heat output.  A sixty watt incandescent puts out more heat than her new toy does.

    I'll poke around... (none / 0) (#41)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:44:35 PM EST
    but they are definitely out there...one sherriffs office even brags how they got one with "drug money" aka "stolen funds".

    Sure (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by jbindc on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:30:54 PM EST
    But I hope you never have need for emergency services (it wasn't just police - it was firefighters and EMTs too) while some fool has everyone occupied on a "wild goose chase"  that you consider a "community service"

    Ya got me... (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:45:24 PM EST
    on Fire and EMT...good point jb, not cool to d*ck those fine folks around, no argument.

    Let me tell you a story... (none / 0) (#48)
    by Fabian on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:54:34 PM EST
    I'll make it brief.

    We had a house fire, a real one, in the early morning on a blizzard.  Since we lived out in the country, it was the volunteer fire department that showed up and dealt with it.  

    There was another fire called in after they had left to respond to our fire.  There was no "other" team, no "other" equipment, so the other building burnt to the ground.  No lives were lost, thank the gods.

    It could have been us.  There's only so many responders, so much equipment.


    At the very least... (none / 0) (#49)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:57:13 PM EST
    ...it was a good training exercise for those folks.  Better than the "scenerios" they run that cost a heck of a lot more cash.  

    Those fine folks live for that kind of real World excitement.


    Now, no argument? What were you (none / 0) (#51)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 04:00:50 PM EST
    arguing about before, then?  You think, from your comments, that only police were involved?  Did you read the stories then, the story now?  

    So this is just a reflex action on your part, every time, and only and always all about police?  It could be useful and less blog-clogging for you to just state that every time to frame your argument, for others to be able to more swiftly focus their responses, demolish yours, and move on. . . .


    No argument on that one point... (none / 0) (#59)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 05:50:21 PM EST
    obviously I've got a big argument about how we've dealt with these people CC.

    Yes, my reflex is to resist the authoritarian state I see us becoming...every time, guilty as charged.  When others point out the err of my reflex, I admit it.  

    Sorry if I don't have it all figured out and come here to learn from y'all...we all can't be as self-assuredly smart as you my dear.


    I think two choppers that were scrambled (none / 0) (#43)
    by rdandrea on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:47:12 PM EST
    were National Guard.

    Don't forget that DIA had to divert flights to a different pair of runways.  That had to cost somebody something.


    Counselor (none / 0) (#47)
    by jondee on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:51:39 PM EST
    I gotta say, that's a stretch.

    It is... (none / 0) (#50)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:58:56 PM EST
    when jondee says I'm being a knucklehead, time to shut it down on this thread...said my bit and many counter-points taken gang.  My prejudice-slip is hanging.

    It was the Fire and EMT point that nailed it home I think...but I still say there has gotta be a better way than our cages to deal with pikers like this...please tell me there is a better way:)


    There is. (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 06:56:55 PM EST
    This guy is an egomaniac, plain and simple.  You hit him were it hurts.  A thousand hours cleaning the toilets at the local fire house or working at a homeless shelter or trauma center.  Take away any profits he might accrue from his actions.  Ect.

    We're way too ready to send people to jail (at taxpayer expense) instead of finding ways for them to repay the community for their actions.  


    I didnt say you were (none / 0) (#55)
    by jondee on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 04:17:01 PM EST
    a knucklehead, just that it was a stretch. Some good stuff in there, and some..maybe overly imaginative philosophic points. Open thread stuff in these sensitive times.

    You my man jondee... (none / 0) (#60)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 05:51:15 PM EST
    I guess I'm saying I'm a knucklehead...but I'm trying Ringo.

    I agree (none / 0) (#4)
    by cawaltz on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 01:23:42 PM EST
    I think it would have made more sense and have been a better use of tax dollars to get this family some counselling and to seek restitution for the money wasted(as well as kept the codicil or increased it so that they can not benefit from this for 10 years).

    Actually... (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 01:57:27 PM EST
    I think the restitution is rather ridiculous too...42 large?  Damn.

    Unless we're gonna start itemizing all our tax-payer bills for emergency response and such, this is crazy.  As far as wasteful government spending & wasteful allocation of resources goes, this doesn't even come close to cracking the top 500.  Seek restitution from the DEA for all the money they waste, and so on...then hit up the Balloon Family account.

    Besides, I thought we were all worried about the kids...now we're taking food off their table as well as locking dad up?


    There's a big difference (5.00 / 4) (#9)
    by Steve M on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 02:03:47 PM EST
    between the money that gets spent responding to an actual emergency, and the amount that gets spent responding to someone's hoax.

    These people were hoping to score a reality TV show, for heaven's sake - should the taxpayers really bear the cost of their audition?


    As a taxpayer... (none / 0) (#22)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 02:43:59 PM EST
    I'd gladly chip in for their audition than any other number of "legitimate "emergency" response" we pay for that is neither really legitimate or an emergency nor requires a response.  Some of the stuff they call legit actually leaves real victims in its wake...unlike the Balloon Family.

    The best idea is to have FOX, CNN, and MSNBC pay...they got almost a full day of programming outta this...thats mad advertising money.


    Perpetuating a hoax (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by cawaltz on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 02:04:02 PM EST
    is not anywhere near the same thing is having a first responder come to your house in the case of a REAL emergency. These people wasted tax dollars and they should be required to pay it back even if they have to do so ona payment plan.

    So much... (none / 0) (#24)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 02:51:01 PM EST
    for the kids college funds, but at least the police chopper budget is safe!

    We might need it for a manhunt for Balloon family son in 10 years, what with an ex-con dad and the stigma of food stamps and no money for college and all:)

    All half-kidding aside, at least you're with me on jail being a joke cawaltz:)


    Ha! (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by jbindc on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:26:14 PM EST
    If these parents were worried about the kids college fund, they would have done things like normal people do and not scheme to commit a crime to get a reality show.

    No doubt... (none / 0) (#38)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:39:04 PM EST
    bad parents...and we have a government taking money out of the household on top of awful parents...I thought we cared about these kids!

    Hopefully we can get some nimrods in (none / 0) (#56)
    by cawaltz on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 04:29:02 PM EST
    Congress that will up stuff like Pells and get kids college. Perhaps the parents interest in Science will net one or two kids a scholarship. If not these won't be the first kids that will have to get to college without a fund in place.

    I absolutely 100% agree with you on the jailtime though. What they did does not warrant being placed in confines with hardened criminals.


    Jail and prison (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 05:33:27 PM EST
    are different in most locales, and it looks like this is one.

    They're very different... (none / 0) (#61)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 05:53:23 PM EST
    but have cages and dehumanization in common....the main differences lie in the sentences and crimes of your cellies.

    Exactly. So some commenters here (none / 0) (#67)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 10:07:56 PM EST
    are exaggerating, unnecessarily.

    And others... (none / 0) (#69)
    by kdog on Thu Dec 24, 2009 at 07:51:26 AM EST
    do not seem to understand what a cruel & dehumanizing punishment it is...be it jail or prison.



    The family can get (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by cawaltz on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 02:14:28 PM EST
    food stamps and the kids could qualify for free lunches. We have safety nets to ensure that the kids aren't going to starve or go with out the necessities. It's just as important they learn the behavior their father encouraged them to engage in was not only unethical but it has consequences.

    Their lives... (none / 0) (#21)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 02:34:34 PM EST
    are there own consequence...no need to add anymore consequences, imo.

    As for them never doing this again, we can learn from the old fable 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf'...the boy "learned his lesson" in that story, didn't he?  No jail or fine or restitution required.


    No. Actions have consequences (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Cream City on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:47:33 PM EST
    for others.  That is a basic premise of having a government at all.  

    But of course, some do learn the hard way.  That can be taken into account and happens all the time.
    So what did you see the parents say or do that the judge ought to have taken into account but did not take into account in the sentencing?


    The Hennes chose to concoct and carry out (5.00 / 3) (#27)
    by Anne on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:10:53 PM EST
    a plan to deceive the authorities for the publicity value, in hope of benefiting financially from their stunt.  They caused resources and manpower to be directed at a hoax at a time when states are struggling to provide services to people who actually need them.  They chose to put the lives of rescue personnel at risk for their own possible financial gain.

    The Hennes took this course of action knowing that the consequences for being caught might take them away from their children and might also cost them a fair chunk of change.

    These people were not victims of circumstance, innocent bystanders drawn into someone else's plan: they made their own choices, which put the decision about the consequences into someone else's hands.

    I feel sorry for the children, but I would be hard-pressed to shed a tear for these parents.


    I don't give two flips... (none / 0) (#30)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:16:51 PM EST
    about the parents...any tears I shed are for "we the people"...its our collective soul our system is staining.

    I think you miss the point (5.00 / 2) (#32)
    by jbindc on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:25:10 PM EST
    See, you are always looking for how the big, bad government is denying people their rights.  But in this case, the system worked - get it?  People committed a crime - they had the intent, they knowingly went through with the act, they were caught.  The government didn't lock them up immediately - it did an investigation and found them to be guilty.

    The system absolutely worked.  Chalk a good win up for Big Brother.


    System worked my arse... (none / 0) (#37)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:36:18 PM EST
    a man is being placed in a cage over a freakin' balloon...if thats a win, I hope we lose.

    Be honest Kdog (none / 0) (#40)
    by nycstray on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:41:33 PM EST
    It's fine if you think the sentence was too much, but to say it was "over a freakin' balloon" is dishonest at best. You are perfectly within your rights and the law to walk around with a freakin' balloon, even a whole bunch of them. Now a hoax involving gov agencies, not so much . . . .

    Just don't let... (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:50:12 PM EST
    ...any of those balloons slip out of your grasp and float away or the FAA will come after you for launching an unauthorized aircraft.  

    Visions of the Red Balloon here (none / 0) (#53)
    by nycstray on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 04:06:33 PM EST
    thanks for the long forgotten imagery :)

    My imagery... (none / 0) (#64)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 07:28:47 PM EST
    99 Luft Balons.  

    I just can't resist Nena's German singing wiles.


    Also a very good image/memory :) (none / 0) (#65)
    by nycstray on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 08:18:31 PM EST
    ah, thanks!

    You're right... (none / 0) (#45)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 03:48:33 PM EST
    make that "over a freakin' balloon they claimed was carrying their kid", for the sake of accuracy.

    The point still stands about it being far far too little reason to cage a man.


    My soul suffers a greater stain when (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by Anne on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 11:17:39 PM EST
    people like the opportunistic and selfish Heenes escape having to pay for the consequences of their harebrained schemes going wrong; I don't want more people who aspire to the reality TV lifestyle to think they have permission to be stupid.

    If you don't like the laws, if you object to the punishment those laws call for, then work to change them.

    But I can tell you that those of us who aren't "pulling a Heene" have little tolerance for those who do, and have little sympathy for them for thinking they could do it without paying a price for being caught.


    Escape Anne?... (none / 0) (#70)
    by kdog on Thu Dec 24, 2009 at 08:17:50 AM EST
    These people are now basically social pariahs...poster children for stupidity.  There is no "escape" for them....they are forced to live with themselves and their stained reputations.

    I have no intentions of "pulling a Heene" either, but I have sympathy for almost anybody who is forced to strip naked, spread 'em, and have a flashlight shined up their bum...it's no joke.  


    Runaway bride was (none / 0) (#11)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 02:04:36 PM EST
    treated much more softly with her case. Less community service, minimal restitution, able to sell her story, lesser charges. The search for her went on for 4 days, and she actually could have gotten at least one person arrested and incarcerated had she pursued her lie of being abducted.

    She also had previous blemishes on her record.


    Jail time seems severe (5.00 / 0) (#14)
    by cawaltz on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 02:10:38 PM EST
    to me in these types of cases. Restitution? Absolutely. An agreement that they be unable to profit from their unethical behavior? Sure. Community service? I can even see that. I do think though that to go to such extremes to seek attention is something that ought to be explored by a medical professional rather than incarceration at taxpayer expense.

    Difference is (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by Steve M on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 02:11:11 PM EST
    runaway bride didn't ask the police to waste their time looking for her.  It's difficult to understand why she should be responsible for any costs at all.

    You yourself, as an American, have the right to pack up right this second and head to Hawaii for an impromptu vacation, if you feel like it.  There's no law that says you have to leave a note.  If someone panics because they don't know where you went and calls the police to hunt you down, that's not your responsibility.


    That's a decent point n/t (none / 0) (#18)
    by cawaltz on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 02:16:02 PM EST
    The Heenes (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 02:19:22 PM EST
    can be held accountable to what aircraft were put in the air, but the runaway bride couldn't have known that a missing person search would take place for her.

    Perhaps we should just stop looking for missing people completely if they didn't leave a note behind.

    The drama is just exhausting.


    If she was over 18 (none / 0) (#20)
    by cawaltz on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 02:33:48 PM EST
    then yeah there was absolutely no reason that there needed to be a manhunt per se. Now the fact that she lied after the fact about an abduction probably should have got her community service and the fact that the police wasted manhours looking for abductors ought to mean she should pay some of the tax dollars back that were wasted but I don't see penalizing someone because they got stressed out and didn't leave a note. The major problem is the LYING which in turn leads to wasted manhours from emergency responders IMO.

    Well (none / 0) (#25)
    by Steve M on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 02:53:26 PM EST
    it's more like we don't require adults to leave a note if they take an unplanned trip, even though it's not particularly nice to make people worry.

    "A man can't just sit around." (none / 0) (#52)
    by desertswine on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 04:03:51 PM EST
    Lawnchair Larry was only fined $1500.

    I never quite understood (none / 0) (#63)
    by CoralGables on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 07:16:57 PM EST
    why Larry was fined. I'd have to go back and read the original article that I still have stashed somewhere but he set out on his own and shot himself back down. Other than a very short blackout after clipping a power line, he caused no harm and he never called for help.

    The Innocence Project is definitely not (none / 0) (#54)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Dec 23, 2009 at 04:11:49 PM EST
    The Pro Bono Project:
    Texas man freed by DNA sues over 'excessive' fees
    From Associated Press
    December 23, 2009 7:42 PM EST
    DALLAS (AP) -- A wrongly convicted man freed by DNA evidence is suing his civil lawyer and an Innocence Project of Texas official, saying $650,000 in attorney fees is excessive.

    Patrick Waller contends Lubbock lawyer Kevin Glasheen and Jeff Blackburn of the Innocence Project of Texas want too much of the nearly $1.3 million he received for spending 16 years in prison.

    Waller was wrongly imprisoned from 1992 to 2008 and is among a growing number of Texas DNA exonerees upset over what they call excessive attorney fees. He filed suit this week in state district court in Dallas.

    Glasheen says he earned his fees and dismisses the lawsuit as "a weak claim." Blackburn's attorney says his client should be commended for his work freeing the wrongly convicted, not sued for it.