Balloon boy parents face criminal charges for ‘hoax’

Family reportedly staged stunt for publicity

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The parents of six-year-old ‘balloon boy’ Falcon Heene will face criminal charges for the ‘hoax’ stunt, police said today.

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Richard and Mayumi Heene from Colorado prompted a major rescue effort last week after reporting to police that their son had stowed himself away on a helium balloon that broke free from their house.

Local Sheriff Jim Alderden said the parents had manipulated the media and the police. The stunt had been planned for weeks to gain publicity, as the couple wanted their own reality TV show.

Richard and Mayumi, who have appeared on Wife Swap in the US, first met at drama school. “They put on a very good show for us, and we bought it. On the bizarre meter, this rates a 10,” said Jim. Millions of people tuned in to watch the drama unfold on TV and it received huge coverage by social networking sites.

The couple haven’t been arrested yet but are likely to face serious felony charges. They could include conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and making a false report to the police.

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Some of the charges are punishable by six years in prison, which would leave the children without either of their parents. All three children knew about the hoax but are unlikely to be charged, as the eldest is only 10 years old.

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