Oct 19, 2009 5:09 AM by John Romero and Dave Downie

Larimer County Sheriff: "This is a hoax"

Larimer County Sheriff has announced that the "balloon boy" saga is a hoax. "It has been determined that this is a hoax." Sheriff Jim Alderden told reporters Sunday, "On the bizarre meter this rates a 10." Sheriff Alderden explains that the Heene's staged the hoax as a publicity stunt with the hopes of making themselves more marketable for a reality television show.

Investigators first became suspicious of the family after Falcon Heene told Wolf Blitzer he didn't come out of hiding because his parents said "it was for the show". The Larimer County Sheriff's Office admittedly pulled a fast one on Richard and Mayumi Heene when they promised to give them their weather balloon back if they just answered a few questions. After 7 hours, investigators hit a break through and that's when the talk of charging the couple began.

Charges have not yet been filed, but the sheriff says they will consult with the district attorney's office before filing those charges. The charges that they sheriff's department are looking at include conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, false reporting and attempting to influence a public servant. All three children knew about the hoax, but the sheriff says they will not likely be charged. "Needless to say they put on a very good show for us and we bought it." said Alderden.

The Heene's met with investigators Saturday night at the Larimer County Sheriff's Department in Fort Collins. During the meeting there, investigators served a search warrant on the Heene's home.

Sheriff Alderden did add that if the charges are filed and the case proceeds to court, restitution will be sought.



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