Sherri Papini who drew worldwide attention in 2016 after claiming she was kidnapped while out jogging near her home, has agreed to plead guilty to fraud and lying to the FBI about the incident.
The 39-year-old of Redding, California, has signed an agreement in which she admits to the charges against her, which include mail fraud and lying about the kidnapping, according to Niki Serna, a paralegal who works with William Portanova, Papini’s attorney.
“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 in a statement released through Portanova. “I will work the rest of my life to make amends for what I have done.”
Papini was charged in the U.S. District Court in Sacramento with thirty-four counts of mail fraud and one count of making false statements, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In the plea deal, Papini agreed to plead guilty to a single count of mail fraud and one count of making false statements. Papini was arrested on March 3 based on a criminal complaint filed that day.
The court has not yet scheduled a date for Papini to enter her guilty pleas.
The mother of two faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 for making false statements to a federal law enforcement officer. She faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 for the count of mail fraud, federal officials said.
The actual sentence, however, will be determined by a federal judge.
Papini went missing on Nov. 2, 2016, claiming that two Hispanic women ordered her into a van at gunpoint while she was jogging near her home north of Redding.
She miraculously returned again on Thanksgiving Day on a remote country road north of Sacramento, bound with chains and her hair cut.
Her kidnapping drew nationwide media attention. But authorities allege that during the time she was missing she stayed with an ex-boyfriend in Southern California.
Prosecutors say she not only misled investigators and wasted untold law enforcement resources, but she also profited from about $30,000 of payments from the California Victim’s Compensation Board.
The sensational case captured global attention. Papini, who is white, told investigators her captors were two “Hispanic women” but failed to provide detailed identification of them despite claiming to have spent 22 days as their captive.
Prosecutors say the women were invented as part of Papini’s hoax and that she was voluntarily in Costa Mesa, California, with an ex-boyfriend the entire time.
DNA evidence ultimately led to the ex-boyfriend and helped crack the five-year-old case, according to a 55-page criminal complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
Papini was 34 when she went missing from Mountain Gate on Nov. 2, 2016. Authorities mobilized searches for her in Shasta County and California, as well as in several other states.
On Nov. 24, Thanksgiving morning, Papini reappeared along a rural road in Yolo County near Woodland, bruised and bound by restraints, according to the county sheriff’s office. Papini had various bindings on her body and injuries, including a brand on her right shoulder, according to authorities.
At the time, Papini told law enforcement officers and others that she had been abducted and held at gunpoint by two Hispanic women. She also provided a description of the alleged abductors to an FBI sketch artist. Based on her account, law enforcement agencies were on the lookout for women matching Papini’s description.
“For several months, and even years, Redding and the nearby community were on the lookout for two Hispanic women,” prosecutors said in the complaint. “Multiple tips were given to law enforcement by the community about suspicious-looking Hispanic women.”
This article originally appeared on Redding Record Searchlight: ‘Deeply ashamed’: California woman admits she faked sensational kidnapping that captured global attention