The mysterious red lights that were sighted hovering over Morris County and baffled residents and authorities were the result of a hoax, authorities said.
Christopher Russo, 29, and his friend Joseph Rudy, 28, admitted to concocting the prank on a series of Internet videos, Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi said. They posted the videos on the eskepticwebsite.
"Here we have five flares and five weather balloons, about to do our little hoax and see if we can get some attention here," Russo, a salesman, said on the video.
The sightings of these red lights in January prompted dozens of 911 calls and conspiracy theories about UFOs. But in their videos, Russo and Rudy, who is a science teacher, showed how they attached flares to balloons and floated them into the sky. In the video, you even hear them calling a local news channel, pretending to report a sighting of the mysterious lights.
"If there's a single word here to describe the actions of these two individuals," said Bianchi, "setting these balloons and then subsequently posting the video on the Internet, is really in essence, stupidity."
After Rudy was released from the prosecutor's office, he ran out of the building and away from News 4 New York cameras, refusing to talk about his role in the hoax. His attorney said the two thought up the plan to poke fun at those who believe in extraterrestrials.
Both Russo and Rudy are facing disorderly conduct charges.