Balloon boy parents sentenced for hoax

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The Colorado man who claimed his son had floated off in the sky in a runaway helium balloon was sentenced on Wednesday to 90 days in jail, most of that on a work-release basis, for staging the hoax.

But the boy's mother was spared from serving any jail time, sentenced instead to 20 days of supervised public service. Both also were placed on probation for four years, and will be ordered to pay fines and restitution that will be calculated following a later hearing.

The sentencing of Richard and Mayumi Heene, who have three sons, ended a two-month legal saga that began on Oct. 15 with what authorities said was a publicity stunt aimed at gaining the family their own reality television show.

As a condition of their probation, the judge barred the couple from earning any financial benefit, such as from a book deal or other media venture, that might be generated by the so-called "balloon-boy" escapade.

The father was ordered to report to jail by 11 January to begin serving his term. His wife will start her sentence once the husband completes his.

The Heenes drew worldwide attention and sparked an extraordinary search-and-rescue operation when they reported that their 6-year-old son, Falcon, had been carried away in a homemade helium balloon that accidentally lifted off from their backyard.

It turned out that the family had hidden the boy in the attic of their garage.