Why Investigators Are Looking at Sheriff Jim Alderden

October 2009

alderdenUntil this week, the case against Richard Heene for the balloon-boy fiasco seemed pretty straightforward. Even Heene's wife, Mayumi, has admitted the odyssey was a hoax and that her husband had coached the entire family to deceive authorities and the media. But for reasons unknown, prosecutors have been slow to file charges against Richard Heeene---and perhaps his wife (via The Associated Press). Earlier this week, the Larimer County Sheriff's Office turned the case over to prosecutors, who claim they are waiting for more information (but won't specify what kind of information) before they will file charges. Now, outspoken Sheriff Jim Alderden could face charges for disclosing that social-services workers were asked to investigate the family, which, prior to the alleged publicity stunt, had appeared on ABC's "Wife Swap." Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett has been appointed as a special prosecutor in investigating whether Alderden (pictured) violated any laws, according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan. The Heenes' attorney, David Lane, claims Alderden mentioned that child services were involved in an attempt to make the family look bad in the public eye.

Alderden has also taken heat recently for misleading media and the public at the outset of the Heene incident, leading the Coloradoan to survey experts about integrity standards within Larimer County's law enforcement agencies. Meanwhile, The New York Times' Frank Rich used his popular Sunday column to suggest the balloon-boy saga has potentially been good for America, providing a mirror of ourselves and our strange, reality-TV culture. Indeed, even Alderden has seemed to revel somewhat in his 15 minutes of fame, although, as TMZ points out, he managed to resist the temptations of Dr. Phil. But, in typical Alderden fashion, the sheriff carries on at length about the attention the "ballon boy" story has brought to him in his latest installment of "The Bull's Eye: Straight Shootin' From the Sheriff."