No Jail Time for Woman Who Faked Own Kidnapping

( – A woman who faked her kidnapping in Alabama last year has now pleaded guilty to the charges against her and will face no jail time.

Carlee Russell pleaded guilty on Thursday, March 21st, to filing false police reports after faking her kidnapping in 2023. Judge David Carpenter of Jefferson County handed Russell a sentence of a year of supervised probation. She was also ordered to do 100 community service hours and to pay a restitution fine of $17,974.88 to the City of Hoover. During this time, she must also continue to undergo counseling for her mental health.

The judge slammed Russell during the sentencing hearing for wasting city resources, which Carpenter said outraged community members. Carpenter said that putting her in jail would also be “a waste of resources,” as well as putting Russell on trial. He told her the court would treat her the same as “any other person” with misdemeanor charges.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall commented on the case last July and said if convicted, Alabama would seek restitution for encouraging an environment of “crying wolf” amongst the public, which could diminish their willingness in the future to help in actual kidnapping cases. Marshall was dissatisfied with the sentencing, believing Russell should face some jail time.

Russell, who made up an elaborate kidnapping story in July 2023 that she eventually admitted was fabricated, claimed it was a “mistake” and that she was dealing with “emotional issues and stress.” She apologized for “the pain and embarrassment” she says she inflicted on her family, friends, and community, as well as those who were involved in the efforts to search for her.

Russell vanished for two days before returning and claiming she was abducted, escaped, captured again, and also photographed, all of which she eventually confessed was falsified to law enforcement.

On October 16th, she is scheduled to attend a review hearing to assess how much of her restitution she has paid and her progress on community service hours.

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