California mom Sherri Papini is out of prison after kidnapping hoax, now in a halfway house

Sherri Papini, the Northern California mother who was convicted of faking her own kidnapping, has been released from federal prison and transferred to a halfway house under custody of federal authorities based in Sacramento.

Last fall, Senior U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb sentenced Papini to 18 months in prison for the 2016 kidnapping hoax that prompted an extensive search that ended when she returned three weeks later, claiming she had been being abducted at gunpoint by two Latino women.

At the Sept. 19 sentencing hearing, Shubb called Papini a “manipulator” who lied to police, her own family, her community and her psychiatrist.

Federal Bureau of Prisons records show Papini, the 41-year-old Redding-area mom, was being housed by the Residential Reentry Management Field Office in Sacramento. Her release date was scheduled for Oct. 29 of this year, six months earlier than her original release date.

The Sacramento-based field office manages halfway houses and home confinement cases in federal jurisdictions that span Northern California, the Bay Area, northern Nevada, Hawaii and Guam.

The city in which Papini is being housed was not clear. Residential Reentry Management Field Office in Sacramento did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Officials have said an ex-boyfriend helped her leave her Redding-area home and hide out 600 miles south in his Costa Mesa apartment for three weeks as Papini’s husband and friends raised frantic alarms about her disappearance and the supposed kidnapping became worldwide news.

Papini reappeared on Thanksgiving morning near Woodland in 2016, with a chain around her waist and one arm.

“She repeatedly told law enforcement that she had been kidnapped by two Hispanic women and she told them she had been abducted at gunpoint,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Veronica Alegria told the judge in July 2022, when she was convicted.

Papini pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of making false statements and admitted she made up the kidnap story that riveted the nation five years ago. The mail fraud charge stems from her use of more than $30,000 she received from the California Victim Compensation Board, which she spent on therapy sessions, ambulance services and $1,000 to buy window blinds for her home.

At the sentencing, Shubb noted that Papini had taken also taken money in Social Security disability payments and more than $49,000 from a GoFundMe account set up after the purported kidnapping. The judge ordered her to pay $309,902.23 in restitution but said there is little hope Papini will be able to repay the money.

FBI agents and Shasta County sheriff’s investigators continued to probe the case and in 2020 matched DNA found on Papini’s clothing when she reappeared to that of the ex-boyfriend, who told investigators he had helped her disappear. Papini was arrested in early March 2022.

Prior to her release to a halfway home, Papini had been held at the Federal Prison Camp for Women at Victorville, a medium-security federal prison in San Bernardino County.