Sherri Papini Learns Her Fate

Judge sentences California woman to 18 months for kidnapping hoax
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2022 6:55 PM CDT
Woman Who Faked Kidnapping Gets 18 Months
Sherri Papini leaves the federal courthouse after Judge William Shubb sentenced her to 18 months in federal prison, in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Sept. 19, 2022.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Sherri Papini, the California woman who faked her own kidnapping in 2016, has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison—more than double what prosecutors were seeking. The 40-year-old pleaded guilty earlier this year to mail fraud and lying to a federal agent. Prosecutors had asked for her to serve eight months in prison, while defense lawyers sought a sentence of one month in prison and seven months of home detention, CNN reports. She could have gotten 25 years. In 2016, Papini disappeared after going for a jog near her home in northern California. She resurfaced three weeks later, claiming that she had been kidnapped and tortured by two Hispanic women.

In 2020, investigators connected DNA on clothing that Papini had been wearing to an ex-boyfriend in southern California, who admitted she had spent the three weeks with him and said her injuries were self-inflicted. US District Judge William Shubb said he opted for a longer sentence than prosecutors had recommended because of the "sheer number of people who were impacted," including the law enforcement officers who searched for Papini and people in the Latino community who were unfairly viewed with suspicion, the AP reports. "If she had not been caught, she'd still be living the lie," said Shubb. He said the sentence should serve to deter others.

After the guilty plea, Papini's husband filed for divorce and sought custody of their two children. "I am so sorry to the many people who have suffered because of me," Papini told the judge Monday, saying she was ready to "repent and concede. In a sentencing memo filed last month, her attorney said she had been "twisted" by her "painful early years" and argued that she had already suffered the loss of her reputation. It is "hard to imagine a more brutal public revelation of a person's broken inner self," William Portanova said. People reports that Papini was also ordered to pay around $310,000 in restitution to the California Victim Compensation Board, the Social Security Administration, and law enforcement agencies. (Read more Sherri Papini stories.)

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