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Sherri Papini, woman who faked 2016 kidnapping, pleads guilty to mail fraud and making false statements

By Eric Levenson, Stella Chan and Amir Vera, CNN

Sherri Papini, the Northern California woman accused of faking her own kidnapping in 2016, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and making false statements in court Monday.

Papini appeared virtually in the US District Court for the Eastern District of California Monday where Judge William B. Shubb asked her to discuss her background and if she was ever treated for mental illness.

Papini told the court she was in treatment for anxiety, depression, and PTSD for about five years starting in 2016 and struggled a bit during middle school.

“I am deeply ashamed of myself for my behavior and so 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 her statement. “I will work the rest of my life to make amends for what I have done.”

Papini, 39, released the statement through her attorney, William Portanova, as first reported by The Sacramento Bee on April 12.

As CNN previously reported, Papini was reported missing by her husband in November 2016 after she had gone out for a jog near her home in Shasta County. Three weeks later, on Thanksgiving Day, she was found alone on an interstate highway 140 miles from home.

She told police she had been abducted and branded by two women who kept her chained in a closet. She gave an elaborate story of her kidnapping and treatment at the hands of the supposed assailants, whom she said wore masks, spoke Spanish, held her at gunpoint and branded her with a heated tool.

However, according to the Department of Justice, Papini actually stayed with an ex-boyfriend in Southern California during the three weeks she was reportedly missing and received more than $30,000 in fraudulent victim assistance money based on the hoax, court documents show.

Papini faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines. She will be sentenced on July 11.

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CNN’s Elizabeth Joseph contributed to this story.

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