Judge for yourselves. Good acting or genuine terror? The sheriff says his people are savvy enough to know the difference and that they’re sure — well, almost sure — that this one’s on the level:

“I don’t know, after three hours of dealing with the media I couldn’t tell you what he was saying at that time or what he meant. What I can tell you is that our investigators were there from the onset, very experienced investigators,” [Larimer County Sheriff Jim] Alderden said. “They can do forensic interviews; they’re well trained at looking at body language . . . nonverbal communications to look for deception.”

Alderden says the investigators on scene believed the incident was legitimate and not a hoax even after interviewing Falcon separately from his family.

“After the boy came out they did a forensic interview with the boy just between the investigators and them and they again thought that it was a legitimate thing from his perspective,” he explained…

“Now, if this turns out to be a hoax and it can be proved that it is a hoax and criminal charges are filed certainly we would seek compensation for everybody’s effort,” Alderden said.

They’re planning to re-interview the family tomorrow. Case (almost) closed, right? Not quite: The father’s former business partner says he believes the balloon’s “accidental” launch, at least, was planned in advance.

“I believe that Richard had a plan to send this craft aloft,” said Scott Stevens, who used to work as a “storm chaser” with Heene. “Whether it was to leave the illusion that there was a boy on board, I don’t know. [But] I believe it was a premeditated launch.”

Not just a co-worker at the Science Detective Research Group in Fort Collins, Colo., Stevens said he was friends with Heene until the two had a falling out over Heene’s insistence that his three young boys join them on dangerous storm searches where they “just did not need to be.”

“I just thought he was beginning to push them into some things that were ethically on the edge. … I knew at some point he would create a situation that would bring attention like he’s having right now. I didn’t want to be a part of that,” Stevens said.

Meanwhile, Raw Story reports that one of Heene’s YouTube videos (tagged as a spoof) features a fake terrorist attack on the Capitol. Here’s the clip. You know, I’m thinking maybe this family should have their own show.

Update: We’re getting awfully close to checkmate here.

TMZ has learned the Heene family has been pitching a reality show about the wacky family, as one TV source put it, “all over town.”

We’re told Richard Heene pitched a series to Reality Real, as well as RDF Productions. RDF produces “Wife Swap,” on which the family appeared back in March.