Sherri Papini, the California woman who told police investigators in early November 2016 that “two Hispanic women” abducted her at gunpoint while she was jogging, has signed a plea agreement and will plead guilty to lying to federal officers and mail fraud.
“I am deeply ashamed of myself for my behavior and 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,” Papini, 39, said in a statement released by her attorney. “I will work the rest of my life to make amends for what I have done.”
What Papini did was create a fake story to cover up the fact that she had moved back in with an ex-boyfriend without telling anyone and, consequently, abandoning her two children and husband for more than three weeks. When she was found wandering around a parking lot on Thanksgiving Day, she claimed that the masked, Hispanic women who kidnapped her, kept her chained in a bedroom and tortured her. Papini even provided a police sketch artist with physical descriptions of her alleged kidnappers.
After an investigation into the alleged kidnapping was completed, the DOJ found that Papini invented the entire story and even caused bodily harm to herself to support her lies.
“The 22-day search for Sherri Papini and subsequent five-year search into who reportedly abducted her was not only taxing on public resources but caused the general public to be fearful of their own safety, a fear that they should not have had to endure,” Shasta County Sheriff Michael L. Johnson said in a statement.
According to the Sacramento Bee, which broke the news on the plea deal, the fake kidnapping is said to have cost the California Victim’s Compensation Board over $30,000 in therapy visits and ambulance services, not to mention the resources the FBI and police wasted on their investigations. Prosecutors have not recommended punishment for Papini yet, but without the plea deal, she was facing 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.