Monday, October 19, 2009

Sheriff: Balloon Boy Hoax May Have Conspirators

Via Google News (AP) -

The lawyer for the man accused of perpetrating the balloon boy hoax to promote a reality show said Monday that he expects authorities to bring charges against his client in the next day as investigators analyze e-mails that show Richard Heene and an associate discussing the stunt months ago.

"These folks are absolutely willing to turn themselves in, so I don't want to see a perp walk done for media consumption," lawyer David Lane said on the "Today" show on NBC as he made the rounds on the morning talk shows.

In addition to drawing up possible felony charges against Heene, investigators say they want to question an associate of his after e-mails surfaced showing the two had discussed a balloon hoax months ago as part of a public relations campaign for the reality show.

Robert Thomas of Denver claimed Heene had told him he was planning a media stunt to promote a proposed reality show. Thomas, a self-described researcher, sold his story to and provided the Web site with e-mail exchanges between him and Heene. Thomas said the show would feature Heene as a mad scientist who carries out various scientific experiments.

"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 provided to the site by Thomas. editor-in-chief Gabriel Snyder confirmed the New York-based Web site paid Thomas, but declined to say how much for the story billed with the headline: "Exclusive: I Helped Richard Heene Plan a Balloon Hoax."

Snyder said Thomas was planning to meet with investigators, though sheriff's officials did not return messages seeking confirmation.

Messages left for Thomas by The Associated Press were not returned.

Thomas, 25, said in his story that the plan he knew about did not involve Heene's children.

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