A Redding woman who was charged by federal prosecutors for orchestrating a hoax kidnapping in 2016 reached a plea deal this week.
A defense attorney representing Sherri Papini told reporters on Tuesday that his client had agreed to plead guilt to criminal charges of lying to a federal officer and mail fraud.
Those charges carry a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years, though any actual sentence would be based on a number of factors that a judge must take into account, including any prior criminal history.
The case made international headlines when Papini disappeared from her Redding home in 2016. Her husband gave a number of media interviews that thrust the case into the international spotlight.
A three-week search for the woman ended when she was discovered hundreds of miles away in Yolo County at the home of a former boyfriend. She reportedly told police that several marks on her body were caused by two Hispanic woman who kidnapped her at gunpoint.
In August 2020, she was charged with making false statements to a federal agent after police uncovered evidence that she had not been abducted. She was also charged with wire fraud after accepting thousands of dollars from a state victim’s compensation fund as well as a GoFundMe fundraiser.
In an interview with KCRA-TV on Tuesday, Sacramento criminal defense attorney Mark Reichel said the plea agreement reached with prosecutors was a good one that could lessen any prison sentence handed down in the case.
“It is a great move by a really great lawyer that she has,” Reichel said. “In federal court, the mental health defenses are so difficult to prevail on.”
A federal judge has not yet scheduled a sentencing date for Papini. In a statement, the woman said she regretted her actions.
“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.”