Two misdemeanor counts against Carlee Russell, the Alabama woman who gained notoriety after confessing to staging her own kidnapping, have been found guilty. Russell had initially entered a not guilty plea to one count each of fabricating an incident report and falsely reporting it to law police.
According to CNN affiliates WBMA and WVTM, a judge found Russell guilty, and she was sentenced to a year in prison and nearly $18,000 in restitution.
In an effort to avoid going to jail, Russell’s lawyer, Emory Anthony, said that his client had requested a verdict so they could appeal the case to a circuit court. Russell did not object to paying restitution, but Anthony stressed that the sum must always be confirmed. She said, “Restitution must always be proven.” I believe that the sum of seventeen thousand and some hours worked would be reasonable.”
Russell has apologized for her conduct, Anthony said, adding that he wants to make sure she’s in good mental health.
The event started in July when Russell claimed to have seen a child strolling alongside a highway and then to have inexplicably vanished. After over 49 hours of police searching, her car and personal belongings were discovered at the alleged location. But Russell was nowhere in sight. She claimed to have been kidnapped, held hostage, then freed from her captors when she got back home.
Russell’s abduction tale fell apart as investigators worked. Her searches on the internet included questions about how to pay for an Amber Alert and how to steal money from a register without getting caught, according to what the police found out. In addition, searches conducted on her phone on the day she vanished turned up results for bus tickets from Birmingham to Nashville as well as enquiries about the movie “Taken,” which followed a woman who is abducted by human traffickers.
Russell eventually acknowledged that the entire abduction was a fake. The legal ramifications for her false reporting and the ensuing inquiry are indicated by the guilty conviction and sentence.