Watch CBS News

Attorney: Sherri Papini Takes Plea Deal, Expresses Remorse For Faking Kidnapping

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sherri Papini, the Shasta County woman charged with faking her own kidnapping back in 2016, has taken a plea deal.

Her disappearance back in November 2016, plus her story about her alleged abduction, prompted a media frenzy.

Papini reported that she had been kidnapped at gunpoint by two Hispanic women. In reality, authorities said, Papini was with a former boyfriend in Orange County - and allegedly hurt herself to back up kidnapping story.

Back in March, Papini was arrested on charges of lying to federal agents about being kidnapped. She was also accused of defrauding California's victim compensation board of $30,000.

Papini was allegedly lying about the kidnapping as late as August 2020, when a federal agent and Shasta County sheriff's detective interviewed her, according to the charges. She continued to make false statements even after being shown evidence indicating that she had not been abducted, authorities said, and after being warned that it was a crime to lie to a federal agent.

The now-39-year-old Papini had been released on $120,000 bail ahead of the trial.

As part of the plea deal, Papini admitted to making up the kidnapping. She also expressed remorse for her actions.

"I am deeply ashamed of myself for my behavior and so very 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. I will work the rest of my life to make amends for what I have done," Papini said in a statement released through her lawyer William Portanova.

According to the district attorney's office, the agreement will have Papini plead guilty to a single count of mail fraud and one count of making false statements.

Restitution Outlined in Court Documents

According to court documents obtained by CBS13, Papini faces more than $309,000 in restitution. This, not including $250,000 fine for each count she's plead guilty to in the plea agreement.

Papini owes at least $30,694.15 to the California Victims Compensation Board and at least $127,567.60 to U.S. Social Security Administration. She also owes $148,866.23 to the Shasta County Sheriff's Office and $2,558.35 to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The supervisor of the unit of Papini's case in the Shasta County Sheriff's Office, Captain Brian Jackson, told CBS13 Tuesday the news of Papini's plea agreement and admittance the kidnapping was a hoax, "Sits well with me at this point in time."

Jackson said he believes the nearly $150,000 outlined as part of Papini's restitution is likely "conservative" as to what was actually spent in the 22-day search. Now, he believes, any money Shasta County can recoup in restitution is positive.

"We'll be glad with that," said Jackson, "Not very often do you have a case like this where it's been quantified as a complete lie."

He hopes money recouped from Papini's search will be able to go towards other cases within the department.

"Vindicated is a good word," said Jackson, who explained Papini admitting the kidnapping was a hoax is what his team and department have known for years, and proved in their investigation alongside federal partners.

"A lot of hard work, a lot of missed time with family and friends. I can't get those six years back," said Jackson.  "We spent thousands of hours, the better part of six years looking for these two suspects... looking for ghosts."

Jackson, said now he'll wait to see what court's have to say as far as the acceptance on her plea deal is concerned.

Papini faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the false statements charge, and up to 20 years in prison and another $250,000 fine for the mail fraud count. The actual sentence will be determined by the court and will depend on a number of variables, the DA's office says.

An exact date in court has not yet been set for Papini to officially enter her guilty pleas.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.