Oprah Catches Up with "Balloon Boy" Flying Saucer Family; Richard Heene Insists "It Was Never a Hoax"
On Saturday, Oprah Winfrey aired a segment about catching up with the family of Richard and Mayumi Heene, who were both prosecuted in Colorado in 2009 after they reported that their then-six-year-old son Falcon had flown away in a homemade flying saucer. Turned out, Falcon was hiding in the attic, and the family was later accused of having orchestrated the drama for a reality show.
"It was never a hoax," Richard Heene tells Oprah's cameras. "I took a guilty plea to save my family."
He pled guilty to felony charges of attempting to influence a public servant and was ordered to pay $47,000 and serve 90 days in jail, and Mayumi pled guilty to a misdemeanor. But outside of the courtroom both Heene parents have insisted that Mayumi, who is Japanese, didn't understand the meaning of the word "hoax" during an interview with authorities and the couple pleaded guilty only to put the episode behind them.
Still, Richard Heene has had trouble finding work because of the negative attention. He has made several memorable inventions including a machine that shakes the last bit of ketchup out of a jar, and a back scratcher:
In 2012, New Times caught up with the family, which is living in Florida, outside of Tampa. The boys are all homeschooled and now have a metal band, The Heene Boyz.
On February 22, the band is playing a "Restore the Music Festival" in Gainesville. Some proceeds will be donated to the VH1 Save the Music Foundation.
Personally, I'm a fan.
Send story tips to Deirdra.Funcheon@BrowardPalmBeach.com.
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