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Thursday, October 22, 2009
NewsNationalBalloon boy's dad Richard Heene was arrested in 1997, spent 4 days in jail

Balloon boy's dad Richard Heene was arrested in 1997, spent 4 days in jail

Updated Monday, October 19th 2009, 3:43 PM

Richard Heene and  his sons Ryo, center, and Falcon leave their Fort Collins, Colo., home Sunday.
Zalubowski/AP
Richard Heene and his sons Ryo, center, and Falcon leave their Fort Collins, Colo., home Sunday.
Heene's balloon is held for evidence in the Larimer County Sheriff's office.
Powers/AP
Heene's balloon is held for evidence in the Larimer County Sheriff's office.

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The wacky Colorado dad at the center of the Balloon Boy scandal spent time in jail for a 1997 vandalism conviction in Los Angeles, court records show.

Richard Heene was arrested in April 1997 for vandalism, vehicle tampering and disturbing the peace, records show. He plead no contest and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, two years probation and hit with a $100 fine.

Details of the crime were not immediately available Monday.

Heene spent just 4 days in jail and spent the rest of his sentence on house arrest.

Meanwhile, the Heene's lawyer said Monday his clients are preparing for an arrest -- and for a fight.

Attorney David Lane said he has "no idea whatever so-called evidence" authorities have to prosecute the family or whether they passed a polygraph test.

"If that's what they're relying on, they're in trouble," he told "Good Morning America," since polygraph results are not admissible in court.

Lane said he expects the Larimer County sheriff's office to file charges Monday or Tuesday against Heene and his wife Mayumi for staging the bizarre balloon saga.

He said he's hoping authorities will stick to their deal to allow the Heenes to surrender rather than be led away in handcuffs in front of their sons.

Sheriff's department investigators said they want to question a Denver man named Robert Thomas who claimed Richard Heene had told him months ago he was planning a media stunt to promote a proposed reality show.

Thomas, a self-described researcher, sold his story to Gawker.com and gave the Web site e-mails between him and Heene.

Thomas said the show would feature Heene as a mad scientist who carries out various scientific experiments.

"This will be the most significant UFO-related news event to take place since the Roswell Crash of 1947, and the result will be a dramatic increase in local and national awareness about The Heene Family, our Reality Series, as well as the UFO Phenomenon in general," said a copy of the show's proposal provided to the site by Thomas.

Gawker.com editor-in-chief Gabriel Snyder confirmed the New York-based Web site paid Thomas, but declined to say how much. The site headlined the story: "Exclusive: I Helped Richard Heene Plan a Balloon Hoax."

The drama began Thursday when the Heene's said they feared their son Falcon, 6, had climbed into a homemade balloon that broke free and drifted off.

As rapt viewers watched on television, the balloon soared as high as 7,000 feet and drifted 50 miles before finally coming to the ground -- with no boy inside.

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'Balloon Boy's' Wild Day

Falcon Heene, believed lost aboard a UFO-shaped homemade balloon, was found hiding inside his family's garage.


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