Sherri Papini: California woman who faked her own kidnapper was sentenced to 18 months in prison

Judge William B. Shubb determined Papini, 40, to serve 18 months in prison, followed by 36 months of supervised release after she admitted to the hoax and pleaded guilty in April to post scams and make false statements. She was also ordered to pay nearly $310,000 in compensation.

The sentence was much longer than the lawyer’s request. Prosecutors asked the judge to sentence her to eight months in prison, while the defense asked for one month in remand and seven months in home detention.

The charges date back to November 2016, when Papini was reported missing after she went jogging near her home in Shasta County in Northern California. Three weeks later, she was found injured and alone on a highway about 140 miles away. She told police she was kidnapped and tortured by two masked, Spanish-speaking women who tied her up in a closet, held her with a gun and used a heater.

The allegations led authorities to conduct an extensive search for supposedly Hispanic captors has been empty for several years. She also received more than $30,000 from the state in a victim compensation fund.

However, her story fell apart when investigators in 2020 connected DNA from her clothes to her ex-boyfriend, who later admitted that the alleged kidnapping was a hoax.

In their sentencing memo, federal prosecutors said the hoax wasted resources and caused police to investigate innocent targets.

California woman charged with kidnap prank by & # 39;  narcissistic behavior, & # 39;  the sheriff said

“Papini planned and executed an elaborate kidnapping hoax, and then continued to misrepresent her facts for years after her return without regard for the harm she had caused. out to others,” prosecutors said in the filing. “As a result, state and federal investigators spent limited resources on Papini’s case for nearly four years before they independently learned the truth: that she was not kidnapped and tortured.”

“Papini has made innocent individuals the target of a criminal investigation,” prosecutors added. “She terrified the public by her alleged Hispanic captors, who purportedly remained widely.”

In the defense’s sentencing memo, Papini’s attorney noted that she had admitted to the hoax and said her reputation had suffered too much.

Attorney William Portanova wrote in the filing: “Sherri’s years of denial are now over.

“It’s hard to imagine a more brutal public revelation of one’s broken inner self. At this point, the punishment is already intense and feels like a life sentence,” he added. .

Outside court on Monday, Portanova sought to separate today’s Papini from the perpetrator of the crime.

“Whatever happened five years ago was a different Sherri Papini than what you see here today,” he said.

How new DNA technology helped solve the case

The case happened in 2020, when investigators took the unidentified male’s DNA from the clothes she was wearing and tested it using technology called genetic genealogy. The DNA was connected to a family member of Papini’s ex-boyfriend, and investigators later took DNA from the ex-boyfriend to confirm him as a match, according to a 55-page affidavit released to the public. father earlier this year.

In an interview with investigators, the ex-boyfriend admitted he helped Papini “run away” from what she described as an abusive relationship and brought her to his residence in New York. Southern California, the state of the oath. He said she injured herself, cut off her own hair and asked him to brand her with a wood-burning tool as part of a ruse, the affidavit said.

Investigators corroborated the ex-boyfriend’s account in a number of ways, including from phone records, his work schedule, rental car receipts, odometer records, toll records and a phone call. Interview with his cousin, who saw Papini in the house.

Authorities confronted Papini about the new information and warned her that lying to authorities was a crime. However, she stuck to her original story of two Hispanic woman abductors and denied she had met her ex-boyfriend, the affidavit read.

Authorities announced charges against her in March 2022 and she pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement one month later. Her husband is also Filing for divorce and child custody of their two children, saying she was “not acting on reason,” court records show.

In court in April, Papini said she was being treated for anxiety, depression and PTSD starting in 2016 and also struggled in middle school.

“I am deeply ashamed of my behavior and deeply sorry for the pain I have caused my family, friends, all the good people who have suffered unjustly because of my story. me and the people who worked hard trying to help me.” Papini said in his statement. “I will work for the rest of my life to correct what I have done.”

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