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California Mom Sherri Papini Says Public Shame Around 2016 Kidnapping Hoax Already ‘Feels Like A Life Sentence’

Sherri Papini’s attorneys have argued in a sentencing memorandum that Papini should receive one month behind bars and seven months of home detention for lying to authorities about the “awful hoax.”

By Jill Sederstrom
Sherri Papini Pd

Sherri Papini, a California woman who has admitted to staging her own elaborate 2016 abduction, has said through her attorney that the public shame surrounding the highly-publicized incident “feels like a life sentence.”

Her attorney, William Portanova, argued in a sentencing memorandum obtained by Oxygen.com that Papini has already paid for her crimes with the damage to her reputation and advocated for a sentence of “no more than eight months with one month in custody and seven months of home detention under appropriate terms and conditions.”

Papini, who is slated to be sentenced in federal court on Monday, pleaded guilty in April to making false statements and mail fraud after authorities uncovered DNA evidence that proved she had really spent several weeks in November 2016 with an ex-boyfriend, not in captivity, as she told authorities.

Papini was discovered along the side of the road in Yolo County bound with chains on Nov. 24, 2016—three weeks after she disappeared—claiming she had been kidnapped at gunpoint by two Hispanic women, according to court documents previously obtained by Oxygen.com.

“Ms. Papini maintained the lie for years thereafter, terrified that she had actually destroyed the one thing in her life that brought her true love and happiness, her family, desperately praying that the day of discovery would never come,” her attorney wrote in the memorandum. “Once discovered, she lied again until there was nowhere else to go but to admit the truth of the matter.”

Now that the “lies are out,” Portanova argued that Papini has been met with “intense” public shame about the “awful hoax.”

“That day of reckoning has arrived, and anyone who cares to read about it knows the darkest depths of her sickest mind,” he said. “The most shameful part of her is now a matter of public discourse, and she sees that knowledge every day in the eyes of most of the people she encounters. But the real pain is knowing the hurt she has caused so many people, and that she must spend the rest of her life trying to repair the damage she has done to her children.”

Papini’s husband, Keith Papini, filed for divorce just days after she entered the guilty plea.

Prosecutors have recommended that Papini receive a sentence on the low end of sentencing guidelines, but have argued she should spend eight months behind bars.

“A lesser sentence, such as the one month of imprisonment recommended by probation or home detention in lieu of incarceration, is not sufficient to achieve the purposes of sentencing,” prosecutors wrote in their own sentencing memorandum.

They also recommended she serve three years of probation once the prison time is complete.

While detailing their arguments, prosecutors cited the elaborate lengths Papini went to in the years after the faked kidnapping to perpetuate the ruse, including continuing to insist to the FBI and a Shasta County Sheriff’s detective in 2020 that she had been kidnapped.

“At the outset of the meeting, they told Papini it was a crime to lie to federal agents. Papini continued to claim she was kidnapped,” they wrote. “Later in the interview, Papini was against warned that it was a crime to lie to federal agents and told about the DNA and telephone evidence showing that she had been with her ex-boyfriend. Yet even this second warning and evidence of the truth did not deter Papini from continuing to make false statements.”

Papini disappeared on Nov. 2, 2016 during a jog near her home in Redding, California. For weeks, law enforcement authorities desperately searched for the mom of two until she suddenly showed up weeks later covered in bruises, wearing a chain and with a “brand” on her right shoulder, according to court records.

Authorities now say Papini inflicted the injuries on herself and enlisted her ex-boyfriend to brand her shoulder using a craft pen he bought for her at the store. The hoax was uncovered after DNA evidence was recovered from the clothing she was wearing when she was found that matched to her ex-boyfriend, who later admitted to allowing her to stay at his Costa Mesa home for weeks.

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