Today, Larimer County, Colo. Judge Stephen Schapanski sentenced the couple behind one of the year's biggest media stunts to a total of 110 days jail and eight years probation. He also prohibited the couple from making any money off the balloon boy fiasco during that time.
Schapanski stated that Richard Heene must spend 30 days in jail beginning Jan. 11, 2010. The remaining 60 days of his 90-day sentence may be carried out under "work release," meaning he can work during the day and spend nights in prison.
"This will be supervised probation," Schapanski said about that part of the sentence. "The terms and conditions will be that Mr. Heene is in fact prohibited from receiving any form of financial benefit -- whether it be media, a book, an article he writes -- anything of that kind that stems from this incident."
The judge also ruled that Richard Heene must write a letter of apology to the community and public service agencies that were roped into the Oct. 15 stunt, perform 100 hours of community service and submit to random drug or alcohol testing.
Mayumi Heene, wife of Richard Heene and mother of 6-year-old Falcon, who was thought to be in the homemade helium-powered balloon the day it swept over Colorado, received a similar sentence to her husband's: 20 days jail time, to be served after Richard Heene completes his sentence, four years supervised probation, 120 hours community service, a mandatory letter of apology and a stipulation that she cannot profit from the fiasco for at least four years.
Many wanted jail time for the father of three.
In laying out his reasons why Richard Heene should get jail time, chief deputy district attorney Andrew Lewis told the court, "Mr. Heene wasted a lot of man power and a lot of money in wanting to get himself some publicity," and added that the court should make an example of him.
"I think Jay Leno said it best when he said, 'This is a copycat game.' And people will copycat this event. They need to go to jail so people don't do that," Lewis said.
In his attempt to seek a lesser sentence, David Lane, Richard Heene's attorney, invoked the example of Orson Welles, noting that the author didn't go to jail for convincing the world that it was being invaded by aliens in his 1938 "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast.
Richard Heene himself said little during the process, only apologizing once more before Judge Schapanski handed down his sentence.
"I do want to reiterate that I'm very, very sorry," Richard Heene said, pausing before continuing, "and I want to apologize to all the rescue workers out there and the people that got involved in the community. That's it."
Mayumi Heene, a Japanese citizen, was represented by her own lawyer who emphasized her lack of past criminal offenses and competence as a mother in his attempt to avoid jail time for his client. She declined to make a statement before Judge Schapenski's sentencing.
At least one man believes Richard Heene should face harsher punishment than prison.
Bob Heffernan, a lead investigator in the case for the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, said in a letter to the judge dated Nov. 30 that there should be limits on how the Heenes might profit from the Oct. 15 hoax, such as through book or TV deals.