The mother of “Balloon Boy,” Mayumi Heene, has confessed to lying to authorities and said that the release of the 20-foot Mylar balloon on Oct. 15 was “intentional as a hoax,” according to an affidavit obtained by the Fort Collins Coloradoan.
In the affidavit sworn out by sheriff’s investigator Robert Heffernan, Mayumi Heene said she and her husband knew all along that their son Falcon, 6, was not on board the balloon but rather hiding in their home, and that the motive for the hoax was to make their family “more marketable for future media interest.”
Even though Mayumi has confessed, her husband Richard Heene’s criminal fate is still “up in the air,” according to Scott Robinson, a Denver defense attorney, who is not involved with the case.
“If Mayumi’s confession was lawfully obtained, it is conclusive evidence against her, but it cannot be used against him, nor can she testify against him without his consent,” Robinson told PEOPLE.
Last Thursday viewers around the globe watched the flight of a saucer-shaped craft that was supposedly carrying Falcon, who came out of hiding after five hours.
Mayumi told officers they had planned the hoax for two weeks, even building the balloon specifically for the launch, according to the affidavit. She even admitted both she and Richard, 48, had instructed their three boys – Bradford, 10, Ryo, 8, and Falcon – to lie to authorities.
The Sheriff’s office was slated to turn over their investigation to the Larimer County District Attorney on Monday.
The DA could file formal charges against the Heene’s any time thereafter, including class 4 felonies: contributing to the delinquency of a minor, attempting to influence a public servant and conspiracy.
The charges, if they are filed, could bring 6-12 years in prison and fines up to $500,000. If convicted, they also could owe an unknown amount of restitution for the rescue operation.
And declaring bankruptcy won’t wash away debt owed to rescuers, Robinson says. By law “it cannot be discharged” until it’s paid.
“If fame and riches were what they were after,” concludes Robinson, “it looks like all they really got was notoriety.”