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Charges in balloon hoax may not come until next week

- Attorney for Heene family speaks out- 9NEWS' journalistic process during the runaway balloon story/>

On Monday morning, the couple's lawyer, David Lane, said he expected charges to be filed by Wednesday. With television cameras and reporters set up outside the Heene home, Lane has stressed that the Heenes are willing to turn themselves in to avoid the spectacle of a public arrest.

"These folks are absolutely willing to turn themselves in. I don't want to see a perp walk done for media consumption in this case. I don't think it's humane to arrest people in front of their children, especially when they've agreed to turn themselves in," Lane explained. "So, I have law enforcement telling me that they will allow them to turn themselves in upon the issuance of a warrant."

Lane declined to say directly whether he believes the incident was a hoax but said the Heenes are innocent unless convicted. The family remained in seclusion Monday at their home.

"If they (prosecutors) can prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, that's one thing. If they can't prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, that's another," he told The Associated Press.

The sheriff said he expected to recommend charges of conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, making a false report to authorities and attempting to influence a public servant. Federal charges were also possible.

The most serious charges are felonies and carry a maximum sentence of six years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said they would be seeking restitution for the department's costs, though he didn't have an estimate.

So far, only state jurisdictions have been involved in the investigation.

"The U.S. Attorney's Office has not been contacted about this matter," Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Dept. of Justice, said.

The FBI also said it is not investigating.

"There doesn't appear to be a federal violation where the FBI would investigate or seek charges," Kathy Wright, FBI spokeswoman, said.

It is unclear what, if any actions, the Federal Aviation Administration may take.

The Heene story played out live on national television on Thursday when a silver helium-filled balloon floated away from their home with 6-year-old Falcon believed to be aboard. But he was never in the balloon.

Some flights at Denver International Airport had to be changed to a different runway, but the airport remained open during the balloon's flight, airport spokesman Chuck Cannon said Monday. Previous reports said the airport was temporarily shut down.

The National Guard provided two helicopters in an attempt to rescue the child, costing several thousand dollars. When the balloon landed without the boy, officials thought he had fallen out and began the grim search for his body.

Alderden announced Sunday that he's seeking charges, including felonies, against Richard and Mayumi Heene. Alderden said the stunt two weeks in the planning was a marketing ploy by the Heenes, who met in acting school in Hollywood and have twice appeared on ABC's reality show "Wife Swap."

"We certainly know that there's a conspiracy between the husband and wife, you've probably seen some of the e-mails and some of the things on the Internet suggesting that there may be other conspirators," Alderden said.

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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