As if we didn’t already have more than our fair share of local unhinged self-dramatizing fame-seeking wannabes, we’re about to get “balloon dad” Richard Heene. Heene and wife Mayumi got permission from a judge to come to New York to look into unspecified “employment opportunities” some time before their Dec. 23 sentencing. They also plan to visit California.
Authorities found evidence that the Heenes were actively working with RDF USA, the producers of Wife Swap, on a show at the time of the balloon hoax. RDF USA says that any plans were scrapped after the hoax came out. Investigators aren’t sure when that happened, or whether RDF knew about the hoax. RDF, which isn’t commenting, has offices in New York and California.
Heene pleaded guilty to a felony charge of falsely influencing a public official (in this case, Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden), and stipulated to testimony that he planned the hoax for publicity, but he’s been spinning like a centrifuge ever since. His lawyer claims that Heene was forced to “fall on his sword” and plead guilty to save his wife (of whom at other times he has been indifferently protective) from felony charges, which prosecutors said she never faced, and possible deportation, which she still faces. Mayumi Heene pleaded to misdemeanor false reporting to authorities. They both face probation, and possibly up to $62k in restitution.