Sherri Papini, a California woman whose 2016 disappearance sparked a week-long search, admits to faking her own kidnapping

Sherri Papini, the woman who was charged last month with fake his own kidnapping in 2016, has admitted the charges and will plead guilty, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement Tuesday. Papini will plead guilty to “making materially false statements to FBI agents about the circumstances of her disappearance and to committing mail fraud based on her being a victim of kidnapping,” the report said. American lawyer Phillip A. Talbert.

The disappearance of Papini, 39, in early November 2016 sparked a three-week search. She was found on Thanksgiving Day with various injuries, including a swollen nose and a “mark” on her right shoulder.

But according to authorities, she had actually been staying with a former boyfriend about 600 miles from her home in Orange County, California. They allege that Papini inflicted the injuries on himself to try to prove his false kidnapping story.

“I am deeply ashamed of myself for my behavior and I am so sorry for the pain I have caused my family, my friends, all the good people who have suffered unnecessarily because of my story and those who have worked so trying to help me,” Papini said in a statement released by his lawyer. “I will work the rest of my life to fix what I have done.”

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Sherri Papini in 2016.

CBS News


Defense attorney William Portanova told The Associated Press he doesn’t know why his client did what she did.

“Honestly, I don’t know if anyone knows. I don’t know if she knows,” he said.

“In my view, this is a very complicated mental health situation, but one that needs to be confronted and dealt with — and that includes admission, acceptance and punishment,” Portanova said. He said the treatment was not required as part of the plea deal, but “counseling is part of his daily life and will continue to be”.

The plea agreement asks Papini to pay restitution in excess of $300,000.

That includes $30,694 to the California Victims Compensation Board, which reimbursed her for things like visits to her therapist for “treatment of anxiety and PTSD” and for the ambulance ride to the hospital. hospital after she surfaced near Sacramento.

She will also pay the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office nearly $149,000 and the FBI more than $2,500 for their expenses during the investigation. She also owes the Social Security Administration at least $127,568.

The Sacramento Bee first reported that Papini had reached a plea deal.

The charges carry penalties of up to five years in federal prison for lying to a federal law enforcement officer and up to 20 years for mail fraud. Prosecutors agreed, as part of the plea bargain, to recommend a sentence below the sentencing range, estimated for Papini at between eight and 14 months in custody.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento on Tuesday filed amended charges of 34 counts of mail fraud and one count of misrepresentation. But Papini agreed to plead guilty to a single count of mail fraud and one count of misrepresentation.

She is expected to be arraigned on those charges on Wednesday and will likely plead guilty next week, Portanova said.

Papini was reported missing on November 2, 2016. She was found along Interstate 5 nearly 150 miles from her home, beaten and with remnants of wrist and ankle restraints.

She told authorities at the time that she was kidnapped at gunpoint by two Hispanic women and provided descriptions to an FBI cartoonist along with extensive details about her alleged abduction.

She was still making false claims as recently as August 2020, when prosecutors said a federal agent and a Shasta County Sheriff’s Detective showed her evidence indicating she had not been abducted and l warned that it was a crime to lie to a federal agent.

A GoFundMe campaign raised more than $49,000 to help the family, which the couple used to pay bills and other expenses, according to a court filing filed by investigators.

She was a stay-at-home mom at the time and her husband worked at Best Buy. The family was not wealthy and there was never a ransom demand, officials said at the time.

She had gone jogging that day near her home, about 215 miles north of San Francisco. Her husband, Keith Papini, only found his mobile phone and headphones when he went to look for her after she failed to pick up their children from daycare. She left her purse and jewelry behind.

He passed a polygraph test, investigators said.

Papini had both male and female DNA on her body and clothes when she was found, and the DNA eventually led to the former boyfriend, prosecutors said.

The former boyfriend told investigators that Papini stayed with him while he was away and asked him to come to Redding to pick her up. Authorities verified his account by tracking two prepaid cellphones they used to secretly talk to each other as early as December 2015, according to the court filing.

A cousin of the former boyfriend also told investigators he saw Papini, unrestrained, in the man’s apartment on two separate occasions. The records also supported the ex-boyfriend’s story that he rented a car and drove Papini back to Northern California about three weeks later.

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