'Balloon Boy' Parents Pardoned by Governor

'Richard and Mayumi have paid the price in the eyes of the public'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2020 4:31 PM CST
Governor Pardons 'Balloon Boy' Parents
Six-year-old Falcon Heene is shown with his father, Richard, outside the family's home in Fort Collins, Colo., after Falcon Heene was found hiding in a box in a space above the garage on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(Newser) – President Trump isn't the only leader who has announced a wave of pre-Christmas pardons. In Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis has pardoned the parents behind the "balloon boy" hoax in 2009, the Colorado Sun reports. Richard and Mayumi Heene claimed that their son Falcon, then 6 years old, had drifted off in saucer-shaped helium balloon, sparking a major search and rescue effort. They received jail sentences of 90 days and 20 days respectively after it emerged that it had been a stunt to get media attention and Falcon had been hiding in an attic the entire time. "Richard and Mayumi have paid the price in the eyes of the public, served their sentences, and it’s time for all of us to move on. It’s time to no longer let a permanent criminal record from the balloon boy saga follow and drag down the parents for the rest of their lives," Polis said in a statement.

"You wrote to me that you have taught your three children to be honest and hardworking, and you have been diligently passing on your construction trade to your sons," Polis said in his pardon letter to Richard Heene. The Democrat pardoned another 16 people, including two with marijuana convictions from years before the state legalized the drug. In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer granted clemency to four nonviolent drug offenders, including a man who was serving a 42 to 62-year sentence on charges that stemmed from a marijuana sting operation in 1994, the Detroit News reports. Richard Thompson, 69, had his sentence commuted, making him immediately eligible for parole. (Read more balloon boy stories.)

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