LawFuel.com – US Attorney News
A 24-year-old Los Angeles woman pleaded guilty today to lying to the FBI last summer when she claimed to have been the victim of a days-long armed kidnapping in which her captor brought her across state lines.
Sylvia Mardini, of West Los Angeles, failed to return home after running errands on the evening of August 21, 2009. The next day, Mardini sent several text messages to her mother stating that she had been kidnapped at gunpoint, that the kidnapping was ongoing, and that she was in Utah. The FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department coordinated a multistate search to rescue Mardini, whose “abduction” was widely reported by the news media. Mardini was found by the Colorado State Patrol at a gas station in Routt County, Colorado on August 23, 2009. She was alone.
After being returned to Los Angeles, Mardini was interviewed by special agents of the FBI who were investigating her “kidnapping.” Mardini stated that she had been kidnapped at gunpoint by an unknown male on August 21, held against her will for several days, and forced by the kidnapper to drive from California to Colorado. In her plea agreement, Mardini admitted that all of those statements were false, that no kidnapping ever occurred, and that the entire incident was her own fabrication.
Mardini pleaded guilty to the felony charge of making false statements to the FBI before United States District Judge Stephen V. Wilson. As part of her plea agreement, Mardini has agreed to pay at least $20,196.72 in restitution to state and local law enforcement in California and Colorado to reimburse them for expenses incurred as a result of Mardini’s false crime report and their efforts to rescue her from the nonexistent kidnapper.
Mardini is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Wilson on May 10. At that time, Mardini faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison.
The investigation into Mardini’s claim of being kidnapped was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Robbery-Homicide Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. The Colorado State Patrol provided substantial assistance during the investigation.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Daniel A. Saunders
Violent and Organized Crime Section
Release No. 10-039