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Parents convicted in 2009 'balloon boy' hoax pardoned by Colorado governor

Posted at 4:23 PM, Dec 23, 2020

DENVER (AP) — A couple convicted of criminal charges in the so-called balloon boy hoax that fascinated the country more than a decade ago were pardoned Wednesday by the governor of Colorado.

Dozens of rescue crews scrambled to save the 6-year-old boy after Richard and Mayumi Heene reported he had floated away in a homemade UFO-shaped silver helium balloon in 2009.

According to the Associated Press, authorities said the couple staged the incident because they wanted publicity to pitch reality TV shows.

But the child was never in the balloon. According to the AP, he was home in Ft. Collins.

The couple eventually pleaded guilty, served jail time, and was ordered to pay restitution.

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis says they don’t deserve to be dragged down by criminal records for the rest of their lives.

“In the case of Richard and Mayumi Heene, the “balloon boy” parents, we are all ready to move past the spectacle from a decade ago that wasted the precious time and resources of law enforcement officials and the general public,” Gov. Polis said in a statement. “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.”

The governor also pardoned 16 other individuals on Wednesday.