Balloon Boy Dad Denies Stunt Was a 'Hoax'
Richard Heene plead guilty to orchestrating the Balloon Boy hoax, but he claims he only did so to "save my family and my wife."
Heene, father of Falcon "Balloon Boy" Heene, insists that the aircraft launch was not a hoax to land his family a reality TV deal -- and that the family really believed Falcon had boarded the homemade balloon and took off from their Colorado home.
"We had searched the house, high and low," Heene said tearfully during a taped interview for "Larry King Live" that will air on CNN. "I knew he was in the craft... In my mind there was no other place."
Richard maintains that he plead guilty to a felony count of falsely influencing authorities to protect his wife, Mayumi Heene, from deportation back to her home country of Japan.
"I'm not disputing the fact that I did have to plead guilty and when I say have to, I had to do it to save my family and my wife. The threat of deportation was imminent," Heene claims, adding, "My motivation is to simply clear up my name, then do my time and get back to my family. That's all I'm after."
Mayumi plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false reporting, and prosecutors insist they never threatened Mrs. Heene with deportation.
"It doesn't matter whether he says it's not a hoax," said Linda Jensen, a district attorney spokeswoman. "He pleaded guilty and he has a felony conviction because of it."
Richard was sentenced to 90 days in jail, and will begin serving his sentence on Monday, January 11. Mayumi will serve 20 days in jail after Richard completes his sentence.
Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden doesn't buy Richard's story.
"Quite honestly, I'm shocked that he would make such statements," Alderden told King. "The evidence against Mr. Heene and Mayumi at this point is really overwhelming. There's no doubt in my mind that this thing was a hoax."