‘Super mum’ kidnapped and found tied up on road accused of faking entire ordeal
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A "super mum" whose disappearance and mysterious reappearance captured headlines back in 2016 has been charged with lying about the whole ordeal.
Sherri Papini had been reported missing on November 2, 2016 and was found near the side of a road on Thanksgiving Day 22 days later "bound with restraints" and injuries including a broken nose and a "brand" on the shoulder.
The 39-year-old had told investigators of her kidnapping, where she alleged two Hispanic women had taken her at gunpoint.
She even provided descriptions to an FBI sketch artist and a detailed account of her abduction, which authorities now say was entirely false.
In a statement, the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California said: "In truth, Papini had been voluntarily staying with a former boyfriend in Costa Mesa and had harmed herself to support her false statements."
Papini was arrested on charges of making false statements to a federal law enforcement officer and engaging in mail fraud.
The alleged fraudster could spend up to 20 years in prison if convicted of mail fraud and five years for lying to the federal authorities.
Papini does not have an attorney and faces fines of $250,000 (£189,000) for each charge.
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US Attorney Phillip Talbert said: "When a young mother went missing in broad daylight, a community was filled with fear and concern.
"Ultimately, the investigation revealed that there was no kidnapping and that time and resources that could have been used to investigate actual crime, protect the community, and provide resources to victims were wasted."
According to her charges, Papini is said to have been lying about the abduction up until August 2020 when she was interviewed by a federal agent and a local detective.
Authorities showed her evidence that she had not been kidnapped, warning her that it was a crime to lie to a federal agent – yet charges allege she continued to provide false statements.
Compensation of up to $30,000 was provided to Papini, which included payments for her to visit her therapist for "treatments for anxiety and PTSD" according to the court filing, and for an ambulance ride to the hospital.
Shasta county Sheriff Michael Johnson said: "Everyone involved in this investigation had one common goal: to find the truth about what happened on Nov. 2, 2016, with Sherri Papini and who was responsible."
Johnson added that the expensive search had not just cost time and money but "caused the general public to be fearful of their own safety, a fear that they should not have had to endure."
Daily Star had reported the initial disappearance, where Papini had allegedly been nabbed while out jogging, with DNA found on her outfit eventually traced back to an ex-boyfriend who alleges she was with him during the time she was gone.
Papini married her husband Keith in 2012 and the couple have two children.
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