She faked her kidnapping to go back to her ex. Now she’ll get 18 months in prison

Sherri Papini left a federal court on Monday after Judge William Shub sentenced her to 18 months in federal prison for kidnapping herself in 2016.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP


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Rich Pedroncelli / AP

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Sherri Papini left a federal court on Monday after Judge William Shub sentenced her to 18 months in federal prison for kidnapping herself in 2016.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Sacramento, Calif. – A mother of two in Northern California was sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison for falsely abducting herself so that she could go back to her ex-boyfriend, which led to her re-appearing It took him three weeks of multi-state searches. Thanksgiving Day in 2016.

Sherry Papini, 40, pleaded guilty last spring to staging the kidnapping and lying to the FBI about it. As part of a plea deal, he must pay more than $300,000 in restitution.

Probation officers and Papini’s lawyer had recommended that he spend one month in custody and seven months in supervised home custody, while prosecutors wanted him to spend eight months behind bars. But senior US District Judge William Shub said he opted for an 18-month sentence to deter others.

The judge said he considered the seriousness of the crime and the “number of people affected”. They included law enforcement officers who sought him, the community that believed in him for four years, who lived in fear because of his fake story of kidnapping by two Hispanic women, and the Latino community that was viewed with false suspicion. .

“The nation is watching,” Shub said, explaining prosecutors’ reasoning in the court filing. “They need to send the right message. … We have to ensure that crime doesn’t pay off.”

Papini replied quietly, “Yes, sir,” when the judge asked if she understood the sentence. Earlier, he had given a statement to the court admitting responsibility and admitting his guilt, as he shed tears.

She did not speak to reporters as she was surrounded by more than a dozen supporters outside the courtroom, some of whom hugged her tightly. They included her husband’s sister, with whom she was living, separated from her husband, who filed for divorce and sought custody of their children after pleading guilty.

Speaking briefly outside the courthouse after the hearing, defense attorney William Portanova called it “a fair sentence, even if it’s longer than we’d like.”

His client was ordered to report to federal prison on November 8. Shub ordered him to be monitored for 36 months after his release, which was a year longer than probation officers demanded. Twin charges carry a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

“Obviously the court did what it thought was right, and frankly the justice of the sentence is hard to argue with,” Portanova said. “I’m not really surprised because I understand the analysis of the court. … To the extent that the judge wanted to underline the wrongness of his actions and tattooed it on his soul, he certainly did it. “

Portanova said Papini never offered a rational explanation for his behavior, which involved careful planning for months before disappearing and temporarily relinquishing his children, who are most precious to him. Her actions stunned even independent mental health experts, who said they did not conform to any specific diagnosis.

Portanova blamed “what feels like a raging storm raging inside her head for a long time” for this, but said she is now a changed woman.

Papini offered no explanation during his brief, tearful remarks to the judge before the sentencing.

“I am deeply sorry for those who have suffered because of me,” she said.

“I’m guilty, your honor. I’m guilty of lying. I’m guilty of disgrace,” she said. “What is done cannot be undone. It cannot be erased.”

But both the judge and Assistant US Attorney Veronica Allegria said their comments were only more manipulative.

“At this point she will say and do anything to reduce her sentence,” Alegria told Shub. “This matter is serious and the society has suffered a very real loss.”

Alegria said, “There was a community that lived in fear. … Miss Papini took money from the real victims.” “Victims of crimes may not believe they will be believed by law enforcement because of this fraud.”

Shub said that Papini’s case is “unique, to say the least,” with little precedent to guide him on sentencing.

“Miss Papini is a manipulator,” said Shub. “Not that Miss Papini has seen the error of her ways…. If she hadn’t been caught, she would still be living the lie.”

Portanova said in a pre-sentence court filing that Papini was “in pursuit of a nonsensical imagination” when she ran into an ex-lover in Southern California, about 600 miles south of her home in Redding. When she said she wanted to go home, he dropped her off on Interstate 5, about 150 miles from her home.

Passers-by found him with ligaments on his body, a swollen nose, a hazy “brand” on his right shoulder, scratches and rashes on his body, ligature marks on his wrists and ankles, and a burning sensation on his left forearm. All injuries were self-inflicted and designed to substantiate his story.

Portanova wrote, the wounds were an expression of her “unstable malevolence” and “self-inflicted asceticism”. And once he began, “Each lie demanded another lie.”

Following his arrest in March, Papini received more than $30,000 worth of psychiatric care for anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. He billed the state’s Victims Compensation Fund for the treatment and was ordered to pay it back as part of his restitution.

As part of the plea agreement, she has agreed to reimburse law enforcement agencies more than $150,000 for the cost of her and her non-kidnappers’ search, and $50,000 in disability payments received since her return. 128,000 has been agreed to be paid.

But Shub said that “unless she wins the lottery, she is unlikely to be able to repay the money.”

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