The Dateline-y saga of Sherri Papini came to a close in a U.S. District Court Monday morning, as her 2016 kidnapping hoax netted her a year and a half behind bars, which is more than twice the sentence the prosecutors were seeking.
Back in 2016, the Thanksgiving Day reunion of supposedly abducted Shasta County jogger Sherri Papini seemed too good to be true. Missing for three weeks, the then 34-year-old mother of two was found just hours after a community balloon release and prayer session for her, with a story that she was abducted by "two Hispanic women” who were “malicious” and “subhuman.” Despite her hair being chopped and signs of physical beatings, local newspapers started asking questions about the case, and so did the FBI. Papini was arrested last March, and a little over a month later, pleaded guilty to making the whole thing up.
Which meant this whole six-year saga (and yes it got a Dateline episode) was all over, except for Papini’s sentencing, which was Monday morning at a Sacramento federal court building. According to KTVU, prosecutors were asking U.S. District Court Judge William Shubb for an eight-month sentence, while Papini’s defense argued she should only get a month behind bars.
Neither got what they asked for, but federal prosecutors got more than they asked for. KPIX reports Papini was sentenced to 18 months in prison, “to deter copycats and make up for the number of people Papini's lies impacted. “
“The evidence showed that Papini’s story was a carefully planned, false story. DNA, cellphone, and car rental evidence proved she had been voluntarily staying with a former boyfriend and that she had harmed herself to support her false statements,” the Department of Justice said in a Monday press release. “Papini was again warned that it was a crime to lie to federal agents and was told about the DNA and telephone evidence showing that she had been with her former boyfriend. Yet, even after this second warning and evidence, Papini continued to make false statements.”
Papini will also have to pay about $310,000 in restitution to the California Victim Compensation Board and the Social Security Administration, both of whom she defrauded by accepting payout money, and to the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI for the time those groups wasted chasing her case.
And in related news from a few months ago, Papini's long-suffering husband, Keith Papini, filed for divorce in April immediately after Papini entered her guilty plea. Seems like he was duped for a while too, but no more.
In his filing, Keith Papini wrote, "I wish to make it clear that my goal is to provide a loving, safe, stable environment for [our children] and I believe the requested orders are consistent with that goal and the best interests of the children."
Image: Sherri and Keith Papini