Sherri Papini Formally Pleads Guilty After Admitting Kidnapping Was a Hoax

California mom Sherri Papini made headlines when she was accused of faking her own kidnapping. On April 18, she pleaded guilty to two counts against her.

By Mike Vulpo Apr 18, 2022 9:34 PMTags
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Sherri Papini is taking accountability for her actions.
On April 18, Papini's attorney William J. Portanova confirmed to E! News that his client had entered guilty pleas via Zoom to one count of lying to a federal officer and one count of mail fraud. 
The 39-year-old previously claimed that she'd been kidnapped while out jogging in 2016. But in a statement released by Papini's attorney on April 13, the mother of two apologized for misleading the public and law enforcement.
"I'm so sorry for the pain I've caused my family, my friends, all the good people who needlessly suffered because of my story and those who worked so hard to try to help me," she said. "I will work the rest of my life to make amends for what I have done."
Papini's story began on Nov. 2, 2016, when she allegedly went out for a jog in her Redding, Calif., neighborhood and later said she was kidnapped by two armed individuals who later tortured her, branded her and kept her chained in a bedroom.

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More than three weeks later, she was found wandering in a parking lot on Thanksgiving Day with a new haircut and visible injuries. 

Rich Pedroncelli/AP/Shutterstock

After investigating her purported kidnapping, police found that Papini had fabricated the incident and had actually been hiding out with an ex-boyfriend in Southern California.

According to a federal complaint filed against her, Papini "created the injuries" while staying with her ex, including hitting herself to create bruises and burning herself on her arms.

"She told federal law enforcement officers and others that she had been abducted by two Hispanic women," an FBI special agent wrote in a criminal affidavit filed in a California court. "Papini also provided details of the alleged Hispanic women to an FBI sketch artist and sent text messages to FBI agents about instruments the Hispanic women used to inflict injuries on [her]. However, this was a false narrative Papini fabricated; in truth, Papini was staying with a former boyfriend and harmed herself to support her false statements."

Andrew Seng/The Sacramento Bee via AP

Last week, Papini's attorney confirmed that his client had signed a plea deal with federal prosecutors. The plea agreement mandates that Papini pay more than $300,000 in restitution to various government entities.
Her sentencing is scheduled for July 11. According to the plea agreement, prosecutors plan to recommend that Papini be sentenced to the "low end of the applicable guideline range as determined by the Court."

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