By Adrienne Moore

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Sherri Papini was in court Monday, where she formally admitted to faking her own torture and kidnapping.

The trembling 39-year-old wiped her face as she apologized for the elaborate hoax. The judge reminded her she could not change her plea and warned that, when it comes to sentencing, her punishment could be more severe than she’s expecting.

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“Were I to be a betting person, and I were to bet on an outcome, I would certainly think there’s a good chance that she will be committed to federal prison for longer than the guidelines,” said attorney Jennifer Mouzis.

And those guidelines include a sentencing range of 8-to-14 months. But, as Mouzis explains, the federal judge has broad discretion– to impose a harsher or lighter sentence.

“She is facing not only 8-14 months but whatever the court believes is appropriate given all of the circumstances, including uncharged conduct, both good and bad,” said Mouzis.

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The redding mother of two fought back tears as she appeared over Zoom to formally enter a “guilty” plea for lying to the FBI, faking her own kidnapping and torture in 2016, and defrauding the state’s victim’s compensation board of more than $30,000.

The judge also reminded Papini that she could not withdraw her plea. Mouzis believes the move was deliberate.

“I think it is a good indicator that, perhaps, the judge is foreshadowing what he may do in the future,” said Mouzis.

The judge also told Papini that she could be ordered to pay restitution and that she cannot file for bankruptcy to get out of paying it.

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Papini will be sentenced in July.

Adrienne Moore