Sherri Papini, a Northern California woman who pleaded guilty earlier this year to lying to federal agents about being kidnapped, was sentenced on Monday to 18 months in prison.
Papini, 40, created a "nonsensical fantasy," her lawyer said, referring to Papini claiming in November 2016 that she had been abducted at gunpoint by two Latinas. Papini had been missing for 22 days, and when she returned home with bruises and a branding, she said the women had suddenly decided to set her free. At first, Papini was hesitant to talk to law enforcement about the ordeal, and her husband passed along details to officers, including that the room Papini had been held in had orange carpet. During and after her disappearance, the Papini family received tens of thousands of dollars in GoFundMe and victim's compensation funds.
Nearly six years later, federal prosecutors announced Papini had made everything up, and continued to lie about the kidnapping even when investigators presented evidence against her. They said Papini contacted an ex-boyfriend living in Southern California and told him her husband was abusive and she needed help leaving. On Nov. 2, 2016, the day Papini disappeared, the former boyfriend drove up to Shasta County, picked her up, and took her back to his apartment, where she spent the next three weeks.
Papini returned home with self-inflicted injuries, a criminal affidavit states. "Ex-boyfriend explained that Papini created the injuries while staying with him, including hitting herself to create bruises and burning herself on her arms," the affidavit said. Assistant U.S. Attorney Veronica Algeria said in court filings that this hoax was "deliberate, well-planned, and sophisticated" and not "something she invented after her return to avoid the repercussions of running away from her husband and family."
During her sentencing, Papini apologized "to the many people who suffered because of me," and said she is "guilty of lying, guilty of dishonor." She will start her prison sentence in early November.