Posted: Oct 19, 2009 5:07 AM by Associated Press
Colorado authorities now say a Denver man is wanted for questioning in the alleged hoax involving a boy trapped in a runaway balloon. Investigators say they want to interview Robert Thomas, an associate of the father who allegedly carried out the hoax.
Official interest in Thomas arose after e-mails surfaced showing the two had discussed a similar stunt months ago. Thomas had said Richard Heene had told him he was planning a media stunt to promote a proposed reality show. He sold his story, including the e-mails to Gawker.com.
The incident temporarily shut down Denver International Airport, and the National Guard provided two helicopters in an attempt to rescue 6-year-old Falcon Heene. The boy was believed to be inside the homemade, flying-saucer shaped balloon as it hurtled more than 50 miles across two counties.
The Larimer County sheriff says he's seeking felony charges against Heene and his wife. Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden says the stunt was two weeks in the planning and was a marketing ploy by Richard and Mayumi Heene, who have appeared on the ABC reality show "Wife Swap." The Heenes have reportedly been working on a reality TV deal in Los Angeles.
The parents aren't under arrest. The sheriff says he expects to recommend charges of conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, making a false report to authorities and attempting to influence a public servant. Federal charges are also possible.