A 39-year-old mother of two apologized Tuesday while admitting she’d faked her own kidnapping in California six years ago, but the county sheriff ripped the effort as disingenuous.
According to The U.S. Sun, Sherri Papini disappeared on Nov. 2, 2016, while jogging in Redding, California.
When she re-appeared 22 days later, she said she had been kidnapped by two armed Hispanic women and held captive for over three weeks.
Shasta County police launched a six-year investigation and found Papini had actually been staying with her ex-boyfriend in Southern California during the time she was missing, the Sun reported. She was arrested last month and charged with fabricating the kidnapping.
According to the CNN, the ex-boyfriend, identified as told investigators Papini had told him she wanted to flee because her husband was abusing her. He said the two did not have sex while she was with him during her disappearance.
On Tuesday, Papini, through her attorneys, Papini released a statement admitting to the hoax, USA Today reported.
“I am deeply ashamed of myself for my behavior and so very sorry for the pain I’ve caused my family, my friends, all the good people who needlessly suffered because of my story and those who worked so hard to try to help me,” Papini said.
“I will work the rest of my life to make amends for what I have done.”
But in Shasta County Sheriff Michael L. Johnson’s mind, the statement was more of a tactical decision than an apology.
“The bottom line is, this case was about some very strong narcissistic behavior, along with deception, deceit and selfishness, so I have a very hard time believing she’s sorry,” Johnson said, according to the Sun.
“She had several opportunities to come clean during the various phases of this investigation and she never did it. Now all of a sudden we’re supposed to believe she’s remorseful for what she did? Well, I just don’t believe that.”
Remember California ‘Super Mom’ who claimed she was abducted and abused?
Sherri Papini admits she faked her own kidnapping.
Collected $30,000 in Cali victim compensation.
Go-Fund-Me raised $49,000.
Reality–she was with ex-bf.
Faces 25 yrs.#Hoax #Fraudhttps://t.co/DuEqbuElrB pic.twitter.com/iR43wUO5ZT
— Beverly A. Pekala (@PekalaLaw) April 13, 2022
According to the Sun, Papini released her statement just after agreeing to a plea in which she pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud and lying to an officer.
As part of the deal, Papini will have to pay over $300,000 in restitution to federal, state and local agencies who were involved with the investigation.
The mail fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, while the charge of lying to an officer is punishable by up to five years. But under the terms of the agreement, prosecutors said they would recommend lighter sentences.
While Johnson admitted he was happy that investigators forced Papini to admit her crimes, he had “mixed emotions” about the plea deal.
“I’m really struggling to have any compassion or sympathy for her at all which is what a plea deal usually goes towards,” he said, according to the Sun.
“I’m frustrated with that part because I’d like her to see her held accountable, and when you strike a plea deal you usually receive much less of a sentence.”
Johnson said his heart especially went on to Papini’s family, who became victims of her lies.
“I can’t imagine what they must be going through, figuring out and now knowing that she deceived them all well,” Johnson said. “I can’t speak for them but I do have sympathy for the family.
“They must be in a state of shock still … They’ve been supporting her all this time and she’s been lying. That’s got to be a tough pill to swallow.”
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