Balloon Boy's Parents to Surrender; May Have Had Accomplices

Celebrity News Oct. 19, 2009 AT 8:55AM
Balloon Boy's Parents to Surrender; May Have Had Accomplices Credit: REUTERS/Rick Wilking/Landov

Richard and Mayumi Heene will voluntarily turn themselves in if felony charges are pressed for an alleged hoax, in which they falsely claimed their 6-year-old son Falcon floated away in a homemade flying saucer last week, the family's attorney said late Sunday.

"I have instructed my client, 'Do not sit down with law enforcement and try and talk your way out of something. You don't know what you're dealing with,'" said lawyer David Lane, who also warned the Sheriff's office not to place the family in handcuffs because it would create more frenzy.

Social Services also is investigating whether the three young boys are safe with their parents, who may be charged with two felonies -- conspiracy and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. (If convicted, they face up to six years in prison and a fine of $500,000.)

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Meanwhile, investigators believe the family had accomplices.

They are trying to track down Robert Thomas, a Denver man who sold his story to Gawker.com. In e-mail exchanges provided to the Web site, Thomas shows that he and Heene were planning a media stunt to promote a proposed reality show that would feature Heene as a mad scientist who carries out various scientific experiments.

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"This will be the most significant UFO-related news event to take place since the Roswell Crash of 1947, and the result will be a dramatic increase in local and national awareness about The Heene Family, our Reality Series, as well as the UFO Phenomenon in general," according to a copy of the show's proposal that Thomas provided to Gawker.

Investigators are also examining whether a media outlet played a role in the hoax, agreeing to pay the Heene family with regard to the balloon incident.

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Larimer County, Colo., Sheriff Jim Alderden wouldn't name the outlet, but said it was a show that blurs "the line between entertainment and news."

"Let's call it [my statement], short of speculation, that a media outlet was in on the hoax, but let's not discount the possibility," he told reporters.

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