A Colorado couple, who reported their 6-year-old son had floated away in a flying saucer-shaped balloon and caused emergency responders to scramble to rescue him, has been pardoned

balloon boy hoax Richard Heene and Mayumi Heene

  • On Wednesday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis pardoned the parents convicted in the 2009 "balloon boy" hoax.
  • The couple, Richard and Mayumi Heene, made headlines when they reported their 6-year-old son had accidentally floated away in a homemade helium balloon.
  • News stations aired live footage of the balloon, which resembled a silver flying saucer, floating over northern Colorado for more than an hour, while Colorado National Guard helicopters and emergency responders attempted to rescue the boy.
  • The boy was later found safe at home. The couple pleaded guilty to criminal charges and served brief jail sentences.
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The parents convicted in the 2009 "balloon boy" hoax were pardoned by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday, the Denver Post reported.

The couple, Richard and Mayumi Heene, made international headlines in October 2009 when they reported to authorities that their 6-year-old son, Falcon, had floated away in a homemade helium balloon that had accidentally drifted away from their home in Fort Collins, Colorado.

News stations aired live footage of the balloon, which resembled a silver flying saucer, floating over northern Colorado for more than an hour, while Colorado National Guard helicopters and emergency responders attempted to rescue the boy.

When the balloon finally landed, no one was found inside. The boy was later discovered safe at home, hiding in the attic. Officials said the Heene's faked the incident for publicity to bolster their reality TV ambitions, the Associated Press reported.

People became suspicious when, during an interview on CNN, the boy looked to his parents and said, "You said that we did this for a show."

The parents pled guilty to criminal charges following the ordeal, and served brief prison sentences.

Richard Heene spent one month in jail for a felony charge of attempting to influence a public servant, while Mayumi Heene was charged with filing a false report and served 20 days. The family was also ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution.

"You and your wife were involved in a very high profile incident that garnered attention across Colorado and across the country," Polis said in a letter granting the pardon. He also said he trusts "that the legal and social consequences you have suffered in the intervening years will prevent you from ever repeating your past mistakes."

Polis said he hopes the pardon will help Richard Heene in his attempt to get a general contractor license.

The governor also issued pardons or commutations to 20 other people, many of whom were convicted on minor drug crimes, burglary, and forgery, the Post reported.

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