Sherri Papini, who went “lost” in 2016 and gained international notice, has pled guilty to fraud and lying to the FBI about the incident.
Papini, 34 at the time, vanished on Nov. 2, 2016, leaving her husband Keith Papini and family worried.
Keith Papini was astonished to find neither his wife nor his children at home when he arrived home from work on November 2, 2016. He called the daycare right away and learned that Sherri had never gone there to pick up the kids. Keith then enlisted the help of law enforcement.
Sherri’s “kidnapping” made national headlines.
She returned 22 days later, on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, shackled with chains and her hair shorn, along a secluded country road north of Sacramento.
Her body was also injured, including a brand on her right shoulder.
She claimed she was jogging near her home north of Redding when two Hispanic ladies forced her into a van at gunpoint.
“Redding and the surrounding neighbourhood have been on the watch for two Hispanic ladies for several months, if not years,” prosecutors claimed. “The neighbourhood has provided law enforcement with numerous tips on suspicious-looking Hispanic ladies.”
Years later, though, officials began to poke holes in her account. They claim she was in Southern California with an ex-boyfriend during the time she was “lost.”
According to a 55-page criminal complaint filed with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, DNA evidence obtained from her body when she resurfaced eventually led investigators to her ex-boyfriend and helped break the five-year-old case.
Sherri had spent the days between November 2 and 24 at her boyfriend’s house in Orange County, according to the boyfriend.
According to the US Attorney’s Office, Papini was charged with 34 counts of mail fraud and one count of making false statements in the U.S. District Court in Sacramento.
On March 3, she was arrested after a criminal complaint was filed that day.
According to Niki Serna, a paralegal who works with Papini’s attorney, William Portanova, Papini has signed an agreement in which she agrees to the allegations against her, which include mail fraud and lying about the kidnapping.
“I am profoundly embarrassed by my behaviour and truly sorry for the grief I’ve caused my family, friends, and all the fine people who have suffered needlessly as a result of my narrative, as well as those who have worked so hard to heal me,” Papini said in a statement posted through Portanova. “I will work for the rest of my life to atone for my actions.”
For providing false statements to a federal law enforcement official, the mother-of-two faces a maximum punishment of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. According to federal investigators, she faces a potential statutory punishment of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for mail fraud.
However, a federal court will decide on the final punishment.
Sherri Papini is still married to Keith Papini, despite leaving her house and children to be with her ex-boyfriend.