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Balloon hoax dad must pay restitution

By Alan Duke, CNN
The Heene family during interview on "Larry King Live" the night of the balloon hoax.
The Heene family during interview on "Larry King Live" the night of the balloon hoax.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jail official: Richard Heene finished 90-day sentence with home detention this month
  • Mayumi Heene began serving her 20-day sentence on weekends, official said
  • The Heenes' report that their son was adrift sent authorities racing to the rescue
  • Falcon Heene, 6, who had been hiding, tripped up the hoax on "Larry King Live"
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(CNN) -- Richard Heene, the man who pulled a hoax by saying his 6-year-old son was drifting over Colorado in a balloon, must pay $36,000 in restitution, a judge has ordered.

As Heene completed his 90-day sentence with home detention this month, his wife, Mayumi Heene, began serving her 20-day sentence on weekends, according to a jail official. Her time is not spent in a jail cell, but on a Saturday and Sunday work detail, a probation official said.

Prosecutors said the couple staged their son's disappearance on October 15, 2009, to generate publicity for themselves because they wanted to star in a reality television show.

Richard Heene pleaded guilty in November to a felony count of attempting to influence a public servant, while she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of making a false report. The judge also sentenced the couple to four years probation.

Richard Heene initially told authorities that his son, Falcon, was drifting over eastern Colorado in a homemade balloon that had come loose from its moorings in the family's backyard. Authorities raced to track the balloon while puzzling over ways to rescue the boy inside. Their efforts received widespread news coverage that riveted people around the nation.

When the balloon came to rest in a field, however, Heene's son was not inside. The boy later was found hiding in the family's house.

That night, during an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "Larry King Live," the boy gave authorities what Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden called an "Aha! moment."

"You guys said we did this for the show," Falcon said in the interview after his father asked him why he had not come out from hiding when he heard his parents calling for him. Later in the interview, the Heenes said their son was simply confused.

Watch the "Aha moment" in the CNN interview Video

Authorities said Falcon's mother later admitted that the whole thing was a hoax and that Falcon was safe in their home the whole time.

CNN's Kara Devlin contributed to this report.

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