Sherri Papini officially pleads guilty for mail fraud, lying to federal officials

Sherri Papini, the woman accused of faking her own kidnapping in 2016, officially pled guilty Monday of mail fraud and making false statements to federal officials. She is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11.| MORE | Timeline: What led to Sherri Papini’s plea deal in faking kidnapping Papini appeared in federal court on Monday via Zoom, sitting next to her defense attorney, William Portanova, in his office. When Senior US District Judge William Shubb asked Papini if ​​she was kidnapped, she responded, “No, your honor.”He asked if she lied to authorities when she said she was kidnapped, and Panini answered, “Yes, your honor.”Papini was emotional at some points during the hearing, wiping her eyes and nose with a tissue and looking down. Judge Shubb asked Papini how she felt today. She said, “I’m sorry, your honor. I’m sad. I feel very sad, your honor. I feel very sad.”Last week, her defense attorney William Portanova announced that Papini would plead guilty, releasing a statement on her behalf where she apologized to those she hurt and said she would work to make amends for what she did. Papini’s alleged kidnapping prompted a frantic search that drew international headlines in 2016. She had told authorities at the time that she was kidnapped at gunpoint by two Hispanic women, even providing descriptions to an FBI sketch artist.”It didn’t have to go this long, and it was a lot of wasted time,” said Shasta County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Brian Jackson, who has been the supervising investigator on the case. She was found on Thanksgiving Day after a 3-week search across California. When she was found, officials said she had bindings on her body and a “brand” on her right shoulder , along with other bruises and rashes on other parts of her body.Federal prosecutors alleged in early March that she actually was staying with a former boyfriend nearly 600 miles away in Southern California’s Orange County and injured herself to back up her false statements.The mail fraud charges involve the more than $30,000 in reimbursements she received from the California Victim’s Compensation Board based on the false story. They included money for visits to her therapist for “treatment for anxiety and PTSD,” according to a court filing, and for the ambulance ride to the hospital after she surfaced near Sacramento. A GoFundMe campaign raised more than $49,000 to help the family, which the couple used to pay off bills and for other expenses, according to a court filing by investigators. It’s not clear what punishment she will face but the charges carry penalties of up to five years in federal prison for lying to a federal law enforcement officer and up to 20 years for mail fraud.While Shasta County Sheriff’s Capt. Jackson doesn’t expect Papini to get the maximum sentence, he does have an idea of ​​a punishment that he believes would fit the crime.”I’ve had some time to reflect in the last couple weeks, you know. Five and a half years sounds pretty good to me. The same amount of time that I spent with this case,” Jackson said. Papini’s plea agreement also requires her to pay roughly $300,000 in restitution to agencies, including the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI.”It’s good because those are funds that were, in essence, basically wasted on her,” Capt. Jackson said.– The Associated Press contributed to this report

Sherri Papini, the woman accused of faking her own kidnapping in 2016, officially pled guilty Monday of mail fraud and making false statements to federal officials.

She is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11.

| MORE | Timeline: What led to Sherri Papini’s plea deal in faking kidnapping

Papini appeared in federal court on Monday via Zoom, sitting next to her defense attorney, William Portanova, in his office.

When Senior US District Judge William Shubb asked Papini if ​​she was kidnapped, she responded, “No, your honor.”

He asked if she lied to authorities when she said she was kidnapped, and Panini answered, “Yes, your honor.”

Papini was emotional at some points during the hearing, wiping her eyes and nose with a tissue and looking down.

Judge Shubb asked Papini how she felt today. She said, “I’m sorry, your honor. I’m sad. I feel very sad, your honor. I feel very sad.”

Last week, her defense attorney William Portanova announced that Papini would plead guilty, releasing a statement on her behalf where she apologized to those she hurt and said she would work to make amends for what she did.

Papini’s alleged kidnapping prompted a frantic search that drew international headlines in 2016. She had told authorities at the time that she was kidnapped at gunpoint by two Hispanic women, even providing descriptions to an FBI sketch artist.

“It didn’t have to go this long, and it was a lot of wasted time,” said Shasta County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Brian Jackson, who has been the supervising investigator on the case.

She was found on Thanksgiving Day after a 3-week search across California.

When she was found, officials said she had bindings on her body and a “brand” on her right shoulder, along with other bruises and rashes on other parts of her body.

Federal prosecutors alleged in early March that she actually was staying with a former boyfriend nearly 600 miles away in Southern California’s Orange County and injured herself to back up her false statements.

The mail fraud charges involve the more than $30,000 in reimbursements she received from the California Victim’s Compensation Board based on the false story. They included money for visits to her therapist for “treatment for anxiety and PTSD,” according to a court filing, and for the ambulance ride to the hospital after she surfaced near Sacramento.

A GoFundMe campaign raised more than $49,000 to help the family, which the couple used to pay off bills and for other expenses, according to a court filing by investigators.

It’s not clear what punishment she will face but the charges carry penalties of up to five years in federal prison for lying to a federal law enforcement officer and up to 20 years for mail fraud.

While Shasta County Sheriff’s Capt. Jackson doesn’t expect Papini to get the maximum sentence, he does have an idea of ​​a punishment that he believes would fit the crime.

“I’ve had some time to reflect in the last couple weeks, you know. Five and a half years sounds pretty good to me. The same amount of time that I spent with this case,” Jackson said.

Papini’s plea agreement also requires her to pay roughly $300,000 in restitution to agencies, including the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI.

“It’s good because those are funds that were, in essence, basically wasted on her,” Capt. Jackson said.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report

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