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No hoax: Colorado balloon boy's father is auctioning off saucer

By Michael Martinez, CNN
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Infamous balloon to be auctioned
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Richard Heene falsely claimed in 2009 that his 6-year-old son was in a drifting balloon
  • The boy was actually at home
  • Now Heene is holding an online auction for the balloon
  • An attorney contends all proceeds will be used for tsunami relief in Japan

(CNN) -- Richard Heene, who pulled a hoax in 2009 by saying his 6-year-old son was in peril as a stowaway in a balloon over Colorado, is now auctioning the saucer for charity.

Heene apparently believes he can get up to $1 million for the controversial saucer.

The man behind the "balloon boy hoax" is offering the saucer in an online auction to benefit relief efforts in Japan, according to the website balloonboyflyingsaucer.com.

The site, which claims to be the work of California lawyer Perry Rausher, assures potential bidders that Heene will not receive any money from the auction.

"The winning bidder's funds will go directly into the Trust Account of Attorney Perry H. Rausher of Calabasas, California. Mr. Rausher will then write a check to a selected charitable organization that is helping the Japanese cause. The Heene family will not receive anything from the sale," the site says.

Rausher did not immediately return calls for comment. The auction ends Monday.

Heene's claim that his son was in the balloon prompted a sensation and live coverage nationwide of authorities tracking the craft while they agonized over how to rescue the boy inside.

When the balloon came to rest in a field, however, Heene's son was not inside.

The boy later was found hiding in the family's house.

The auction website says visitors can buy the saucer outright for $1 million or submit a bid online.

Bidders are asked to respond to a few questions, including "Do you believe Flying Saucers have been around for many years?" and "Would you like to see people travel everyday in Flying Saucers?"

The online form also inquires of "your main interest" in the craft, how it will be used and whether a bidder has read Heene's paper, "Electromagnetic Fields Recorded in Mesocyclones."

The site contains a link to a YouTube video of Heene and his wife, standing outside in front of a deflated silver balloon while they explain their motives and the craft's functionality.

"We went on the internet and we saw that over 18,000 people have perished over in Japan because of that tsunami," Heene says in the video. "We thought, how can we help out? We can't with our hands but we have something that we think could help."

"Funds raised by the sale will go to charity to help Japanese in their recovery," his wife, Mayumi, says in subtitled Japanese.

In November 2009, Heene pleaded guilty to a felony count of attempting to influence a public servant, while his wife pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of making a false report.

Heene completed a 90-day sentence with home detention, and his wife served a 20-day sentence on weekends, according to a jail official. Her time was not spent in a jail cell, but on a Saturday and Sunday work detail, a probation official said.

The judge also sentenced the couple to four years' probation.

Heene was also ordered to pay $36,000 in restitution, a judge ruled last year.

Prosecutors said the couple staged their son's disappearance on October 15, 2009, to generate publicity for themselves because they wanted to star in a reality television show.

Heene has managed to remain in the public eye through business pursuits that included a rock band and back scratchers.

 
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