HOAX UPDATE: How Many Are Involved In "Balloon Boy" Stunt?

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (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 Gawker.com 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.

Gawker.com 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."

Heene has a profile listed on a Web site that helps people get cast in reality shows, and the producer of "Wife Swap" said it had a show in development with the Heenes but the deal is now off. TLC also said Heene had pitched a reality show to the network months ago, but it passed on the offer.


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