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California mother Sherri Papini sentenced for kidnapping hoax


Papinis kidnapping hoax was deliberate, well planned, and sophisticated, prosecutors wrote.

Sherri Papini leaves the federal courthouse after Judge William Shubb sentenced her to 18 months in federal prison, in Sacramento, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. Rich Pedroncelli / AP

By DON THOMPSON, Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) A Northern California mother of two was sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison for faking her very own kidnapping so she could get back to a former boyfriend, which resulted in a three-week, multi-state search before she resurfaced on Thanksgiving Day in 2016.

Sherri Papini, 40, pleaded guilty last spring under a plea bargain that will require her to cover a lot more than $300,000 in restitution.

Probation officers and Papinis attorney had recommended that she spend per month in custody and seven months in supervised home detention. But Senior U.S. District Judge William Shubb said he chosen an 18-month sentence to be able to deter others.

The judge said he considered the seriousness of the offense and the sheer amount of people who have been impacted.

Papini, who was simply emotional through the entire proceedings, quietly answered, Yes, sir, once the judge asked if she understood the sentence. Previously she was in tears as she gave a statement to the court accepting responsibility and admitting her guilt.

As painful since it is, Papini accepts her sentence within her recovery, defense attorney William Portanova said following the hearing.

Portanova previously said Papini was troubled and disgraced and that she should serve the majority of her sentence in the home. Prosecutors, though, said it had been imperative that she spend her full term in prison. The judge ordered her to are accountable to prison Nov. 8.

Papinis kidnapping hoax was deliberate, well planned, and sophisticated, prosecutors wrote within their court filing. And she was still falsely telling people she was kidnapped months after she pleaded guilty in April to staging the abduction and lying to the FBI about any of it, they wrote.

The country is watching the results of Papinis sentencing hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Veronica Alegria and Shelley Weger wrote. The general public needs to understand that you will have greater than a slap on the wrist for committing financial fraud and making false statements to police, particularly if those false statements bring about the expenditure of substantial resources and implicate innocent people.

Outwardly sweet and loving, yet with the capacity of intense deceit Ms. Papinis chameleonic personalities drove her to simultaneously crave family security and the freedom of youth, Portanova wrote in his responding court filing.

So in search of a non-sensical fantasy, Portanova said the married mother fled to a former boyfriend in Southern California, nearly 600 miles (966 kilometers) south of her home in Redding. He dropped her off along Interstate 5 about 150 miles (240 kilometers) from her home after she said she wished to go back home.

Passersby found her with bindings on her behalf body, a swollen nose, a blurred brand on her behalf right shoulder, bruises and rashes across her body, ligature marks on her behalf wrists and ankles, and burns on her behalf left forearm. All the injuries were self-inflicted and were made to substantiate her story that she have been abducted at gunpoint by two Hispanic women while she was out for a run.

The wounds were a manifestation of her unsettled masochism and self-inflicted penance, Portanova wrote. As soon as she began, each lie demanded another lie.

Prosecutors said Papinis ruse harmed a lot more than just herself and her family. A whole community believed the hoax and lived in fear that Hispanic women were roving the streets to abduct and sell women, they wrote.

Prosecutors decided to seek a sentence on the reduced end of the sentencing range in trade for Papinis guilty plea. That has been projected to be between eight and 14 months in custody, down from the utmost 25 years for both charges.

She’s offered no rationale on her behalf actions, which stumped even independent mental health experts who said her actions didnt conform with any typical diagnosis.

Papinis painful early years twisted and froze her in myriad ways, Portanova said in arguing for home confinement. With her deception finally revealed, he said, It really is hard to assume a far more brutal public revelation of an individuals broken inner self. At this time, the punishment has already been intense and feels as though a life sentence.

But prosecutors said her past trauma and mental medical issues alone cannot take into account most of her actions.

Papinis planning of her hoax kidnapping was meticulous and began months beforehand it was not only the a reaction to a traumatic childhood, they wrote.

After herarrestin March, Papini received a lot more than $30,000 worth of psychiatric look after anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. She billed the states victim compensation fund for the procedure, and today must repay it within her restitution.

Within the plea agreement, she’s decided to reimburse police agencies a lot more than $150,000 for the expenses of the seek out her and her nonexistent kidnappers, and repay the $128,000 she received in disability payments since her return.

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