Sherri Papini, a California mother who recently confessed to faking her own kidnapping back in 2016, has formally pleaded guilty in connection with the sham abduction.
Papini appeared via Zoom on Monday in federal court, where she entered guilty pleas on charges of lying to a federal officer and mail fraud.
The mother of two, now 39, seemingly vanished on Nov. 2, 2016 while jogging along the Oregon Trail near her home in Redding. Her disappearance sparked a weeks-long search that concluded on Thanksgiving Day, when a passing motorist spotted Papini alongside a California highway – partially bound, injured and with a brand on her shoulder.
Papini later told investigators she was captured by two Hispanic women at gunpoint and tortured during her weeks away. In reality, Papini was actually staying with a former boyfriend nearly 600 miles away in Southern California’s Orange County. Authorities noted he was the one who dropped her along the side of the road.
“Were you kidnapped?” Senior US District Judge William Shubb asked her during the hearing on Monday.
“No, Your Honor,” Papini replied.
“Did you lie to government agents when you told them you were kidnapped?” Shubb continued.
“Yes, Your Honor,” she responded.
She was also ordered to pay back some $300,000 — including $128,000 in disability payments, $30,000 worth of treatment paid for by the victim’s compensation fund, and another $49,000 raised through a GoFundMe campaign.
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Papini earlier this month agreed to plead guilty as part of a deal with prosecutors, who in exchange would recommend a punishment on shorter side of the sentencing range. She’s likely facing between eight and 14 months behind bars, which is a mere fraction of the maximum 25 years she could have received.
Still a mystery is why the young mother staged her own disappearance and kidnapping. Her attorney, William Portanova, said last week that he doubts even she knows.
He suggested “a very complicated mental health situation,” and said her long-delayed acceptance of responsibility and punishment is part of the healing process.
She is scheduled to be sentenced July 11.
With News Wire Services