MANATEE — Remember the “Balloon Boy”?
Last October Richard Heene’s 6-year-old son, Falcon, supposedly floated off in a helium balloon hurtling over Colorado, mesmerizing a national TV audience.
It was a high-flying hoax.
Well, the Balloon Boy’s father and family have moved to Manatee County.
Never miss a local story.
Richard and Mayumi Heene and their three boys are staying with his mother, Rae Sprow and husband Joseph Sprow, who live at Waterlefe Golf & River Club.
There was a van with Colorado plates parked outside the residence Friday afternoon, but no one answered the doorbell.
The family’s arrival Thursday from Colorado Springs might’ve been kept quiet had it not been for the fact that Heene, who turns 49 Sept. 11, had to register as a convicted felon with the Manatee County Sheriff’s office.
Under Florida law, convicted felons who move into a county must alert authorities within 48 hours, said Randy Warren, spokesman for the Manatee County jail.
They’re fingerprinted and photographed at the jail, then logged into the system.
Heene, a general contractor, did so Friday morning and TMZ.com broke the news.
It was last Oct. 15 when the family’s misadventure got nationwide attention.
Amateur storm-chasers who had twice appeared on ABC’s “Wife Swap,” the Heenes concocted the publicity stunt after networks kept rejecting pitches for a reality TV show.
The Heenes reported their son had floated away in a homemade spaceship-shaped helium balloon, triggering a cross-country rescue attempt involving dozens of emergency responders and two Colorado National Guard helicopters.
After the balloon crash-landed in a field, rescuers found it was unoccupied.
Falcon was safe at the family’s Fort Collins home, about 60 miles north of Denver.
The Heenes’ story began to unravel.
When it was apparent there would be legal consequences, Rae Sprow told the Bradenton Herald on Nov. 13: “If my son or his wife have to go to jail, I will provide a safe haven and home. We are willing to pitch in and help if necessary. The boys are a joy to be around.”
Richard Heene pleaded guilty to a felony count of attempting to influence a public servant and served a 30-day jail term.
Mayumi Heene pleaded guilty to filing a false report and served a 20-day jail term.
“I’m very, very sorry. And I want to apologize to all the rescue workers out there and the people out there who got involved in the community,” Richard Heene said at sentencing.
They must make regular monthly payments toward a court-ordered $36,000 restitution for costs incurred by police and rescue personnel.
The Federal Aviation Administration also fined the Heenes $8,000 for launching an aircraft that wandered into the path of planes at Denver International Airport, briefly forcing a runway to be closed.
According to court officials, Heene’s probation has been transferred to Florida. Terms of the probation include not selling their story or profiting from it until December 2013.
This report includes material from the Associated Press.