Sherri Papini’s husband files for divorce, child custody after she pleads guilty to kidnapping hoax: report

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A California man who stood by his wife for six years after she claimed to have been kidnapped has filed for divorce after it was revealed that the kidnapping was part of an elaborate hoax.

Online records in Shasta County Superior Court show that Keith Papini  has filed for “dissolution with minor children” from his wife Sherri Papini who recently admitted in a plea agreement that she had faked being kidnapped for three weeks in 2016, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Sherri Papini of Redding leaves the federal courthouse after her arraignment in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, April 13, 2022.
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncell)


“Now that I have learned the truth as reflected in the plea agreement that she has made with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Sacramento, I must act decisively to protect my children from the trauma caused by their mother and bring stability and calm to their lives,” Keith Papini wrote in an affidavit filed in court. “Both I and especially our children were traumatized by her disappearance, and I spent much time and money trying to find my wife.

Sherri Papini, 39, of Redding, was found on Thanksgiving Day in 2016 after weeks of searching in California and several nearby states, with bindings on her body and injuries including a swollen nose and a “brand” on her right shoulder.

Sherri Papini of Redding leaves the federal courthouse accompanied by her attorney, William Portanova, right, after her arraignment in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, April 13, 2022.
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

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She had been reported missing Nov. 2. She told authorities at the time that she had been kidnapped at gunpoint by two Hispanic women, even providing descriptions to an FBI sketch artist along with extensive details of her purported abduction.

In reality, authorities said, she was staying with a former boyfriend nearly 600 miles away from her home in Orange County, in Southern California, and hurt herself to back up her false statements.


Sherri Papini recently pleaded guilty to one count each of mail fraud and lying to a federal officer, days after accepting a deal from prosecutors in connection with the fake kidnapping. The story captured headlines nationwide and cost law enforcement and the government thousands of dollars.

She apologized to Shubb and added: “I’m sad. I feel very sad, your honor. I feel very sad,” according to the report. 

Shubb then asked Papini if she was kidnapped, to which she reportedly responded: “No, your honor.”

Prior to the plea deal, Papini was facing 34 counts of mail fraud and one count of making false statements, according to reports. She instead pleaded guilty to a single count of each, and a restitution payment of up to $300,000. More specifically, she must pay nearly $149,000 to the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office; at least $127,568 to the Social Security Administration; $30,694 to the California Victims Compensation Board, and more than $2,500 to the FBI, according to The Associated Press. 


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She reportedly faces up to 20 years in prison for mail fraud and up to five for lying to a federal officer.

A “missing” sign for Redding, Calif., resident Sherri Papini is seen near the location where the mother of two is initially believed to have gone missing while jogging. 

“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 through her attorney, William Portanova. “I will work the rest of my life to make amends for what I have done.”

Papini’s sentencing is scheduled for July 11, 2022. 

The Associated Press and Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report.

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