Feds: A California mother who pretended to be abducted has not returned more than $300,000 in damages

Sherri Papini, once at the center of a nationwide search following a reported kidnapping, has fallen behind in her financial obligations, failing to pay over $300,000 in restitution. The Northern California mother was released from federal custody in August, after her elaborate hoax had come to light, sparking widespread media coverage and an expensive multi-state search operation.

Recent court documents reveal an aggressive move by the federal authorities to recoup the costs associated with the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin Tubesing has filed for a writ of garnishment amounting to $340,221.23 against Papini and Kinney & Kinney Attorneys at Law, the firm representing her in ongoing divorce proceedings.

This total reflects both the original debt of $309,292.23 and an additional 10% litigation surcharge. Despite a demand issued over a month prior, Papini has yet to fulfill this financial obligation, leading to this legal action to enforce the restitution.

The background of this case stretches back to 2016, when Papini vanished while jogging near her Redding home, only to reappear three weeks later with claims of abduction and assault by two unidentified women.

However, the narrative began to crumble under scrutiny, culminating in the exposure of her deceit: Papini had orchestrated the entire event with an ex-boyfriend, going to great lengths to fabricate her story.

The unraveling of Papini’s tale was marked by significant developments, including the discovery of an unknown male’s DNA on her clothing, which ultimately led to her accomplice. Their confession disclosed the extent of their conspiracy, including self-inflicted injuries to bolster their false narrative.

Despite overwhelming evidence, Papini maintained her innocence until her eventual arrest in 2022, which led to her guilty plea on charges of lying to federal agents and committing mail fraud.

Before her legal reckoning, Papini had illicitly garnered substantial funds by exploiting sympathy and support, falsely claiming victim status to receive aid from state and federal victim compensation programs. This misuse of resources and the betrayal of public trust culminated in her court-mandated restitution, a sum she has now failed to pay.

William Portanova, Papini’s attorney, insists that she is engaging with the court and federal authorities to adhere to her payment obligations. However, the initiation of wage garnishment signals a significant step by the government to recover the financial outlay resulting from Papini’s deceit.

The Sherri Papini case serves as a somber reminder of the real-world consequences of falsehoods, not just on the individuals directly involved but also on the broader community and resources allocated to genuine victims of crime. The ongoing legal actions underscore the seriousness with which the justice system treats such transgressions and the enduring aftermath of such a high-profile deception.