Photo: Yereka News
Northern California woman Sherri Papini was last month charged with kidnapping her in 2016, pleading with prosecutors on Tuesday and admitting she created the story that inspired a frantic search and international headlines.
Defense attorney William Portanova said his client would plead guilty to charges of lying to a federal official and mail fraud.
“I am deeply ashamed of myself for my behavior and to my family, my friends, all the good people who have suffered needlessly because of my story and who have worked so hard to try to help me, for that pain.” Very sorry.” she said in a statement released via Portanova. “I will work the rest of my life for what I have done.”
The petition deal was first reported by The Sacramento Bee.
Redding’s search for the 39-year-old Papini began a three-week search in California and several surrounding states, until she reappeared on Thanksgiving Day in 2016.
He had bindings all over his body and had injuries including a blurred “brand” on his right shoulder and a swollen nose. He had other bruises and rashes on several parts of his body, ligature marks on his wrists and ankles, and burns on his left forearm.
Federal prosecutors alleged in early March that she was actually living with an ex-boyfriend about 600 miles (966 kilometers) away in Orange County, Southern California, and injured herself to support her false statements.
It’s not clear what sentence he will face but charges include up to five years in federal prison for lying to a federal law enforcement officer and up to 20 years for mail fraud.
Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman for the US Attorney’s Office in Sacramento, said she could not confirm the deal or any element of it.
Papini was reported missing on November 2, 2016. She was found near Interstate 5, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) from her home, with bruises on her wrists and ankles.
She told officers at the time that she had been abducted at gunpoint by two Hispanic women, and provided an FBI sketch artist with a detailed description of her alleged abduction.
She was still making false statements until August 2020, when prosecutors said a federal agent and Shasta County sheriff’s detective showed her evidence that she was not kidnapped and warned her that lying to a federal agent was a crime. .
The mail fraud charges include more than $30,000 in reimbursement received from the California Victims Compensation Board based on a false story. According to the court filing, and the ambulance ride to the hospital after she surfaced near Sacramento, they included money for her doctor visits to “treat anxiety and PTSD.”
A GoFundMe campaign raised more than $49,000 to help the family, which the couple used to pay for bills and other expenses, according to a court filing filed by investigators.
She was a stay-at-home mom at the time and her husband worked at Best Buy. Officials said at the time that the family was not wealthy and never demanded a ransom.
She had gone jogging that day near her home, about 215 miles (350 kilometers) north of San Francisco. Her husband, Keith Papini, only found her cellphone and earphones when he went to find her after failing to pick up their kids at day care. She left her purse and jewelry there.
Investigators said he passed the lie detector test.
Prosecutors say Papini had both male and female DNA on her body and clothing, and that the DNA eventually led to the ex-boyfriend.
The ex-lover told investigators that Papini stayed with her as she was leaving, and had asked to come to Redding to pick her up. According to court filings, authorities verified his account by tracking down two prepaid cellphones they were using to secretly talk to each other in early December 2015.
A cousin of the ex-boyfriend also told investigators that he had seen Papini twice in the unrestrained, man’s apartment. Records also backed up the ex-boyfriend’s story that he rented a car and took Papini back to Northern California about three weeks later.