Balloon Boy Dad: It Wasn't a Hoax

Richard Heene says he pleaded guilty to help his wife
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2010 5:01 PM CST
Richard Heene, center, looks up as he sits in the courtroom with his wife Mayumi, and attorney last month.   (AP Photo/Rich Abrahamson, Pool)
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(Newser) – There's no easy way to break this: The balloon boy dad is back in the news, and he insists the hoax he admitted to perpetrating wasn't, in fact, a hoax. Richard Heene tells Larry King in an interview airing Friday that he genuinely thought his son Falcon was aboard the infamous contraption when it took flight. He says he pleaded guilty only to save his wife from being deported to Japan. The local sheriff says he's "shocked" by the interview.

"I had to do it to save my family and my wife," Heene says in excerpts released by CNN. How about Falcon's televised admission that "we did it for the show"? "Well, first off, let's take into consideration he's only been speaking English and just learned 3½ years prior to that," says dad. Heene, who pleaded guilty to a felony count of attempting to influence a public servant, will begin serving a 90-day sentence on Jan. 11. His wife, Mayumi, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge, will serve 20 days when he's out.

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