Is the lawman behind the Balloongate probe full of hot air?
With what appears to be slam-dunk evidence against his clients, the Colorado lawyer of Richard and Mayumi Heene has chosen a novel defense approach: blame Larimer County Sheriff James Alderden for bungling the investigation and jeopardizing the Balloon Brood's shot at a fair trial.
Per the county district attorney's office, Heene attorney David Lane has accused Alderden of violating privacy laws by informing the media that the three Heene kids were being scrutinized by Child Protective Services after the notorious balloon flight.
"The defense attorney submitted a letter to us asking that [the sheriff] be investigated because he made a comment about child protective services investigating the Heene children," says D.A. spokeswoman Linda Jensen. "He was saying that by statute the sheriff should not have said that."
And now the D.A. has brought in a special prosecutor to hear out Lane's claims.
Does that mean the case goes pop?
You bet, if you listen to the Heenes' lawyer.
"Each and every statement made by the sheriff is designed to further fuel the public frenzy against the Heenes and ensure that they will be convicted in the court of public opinion before any charges are even filed in this matter," says Lane in a statement, noting any probe regarding allegations of child neglect by state law is supposed to be kept confidential.
A spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Department declined to comment on the matter.
Over the weekend, Lane groused about the leak of Mayumi Heene's affidavit—in which she said the whole thing was a hoax dreamed up by Richard to get them publicity so they could land a reality TV deal. Such disclosures, he said, undermined the couple's presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
Authorities have announced plans to pursue criminal charges against the Heenes for allegedly phoning in a false report that their 6-year-old son, Falcon, was swept away in a flying-saucer-shaped helium weather balloon two weeks ago.
As it turned out, the boy was never in the balloon at all, and Mayumi acknowledged that she and Richard knew of his whereabouts the whole time.
See how much people are piling on the Heenes here.