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Carlee Russell, the Alabama nursing student who admitted that her mysterious kidnapping was a complete “hoax,” was found guilty of two misdemeanors and now faces jail time for staging her abduction.

According to WVTM 13, during a pre-trial hearing on Oct.11, a municipal court judge in Hoover, Alabama, found Russell guilty of two misdemeanor charges connected to her fake kidnapping along the I-459 highway in Hoover on July 13. She was slammed with one count of false reporting to law enforcement and one count of falsely reporting an incident.

The judge recommended that Russell serve a year in jail and pay over $17,000 in restitution to the City of Hoover for faking her disappearance. Additionally, Russell was ordered to pay two fines of $831 each.

The 26-year-old pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges at Tuesday’s hearing. 

During an interview with WVTM 13 outside the courtroom, Russell’s lawyer, Emory Anthony, explained that he asked the judge to hand down a verdict so the case could be appealed and moved to the circuit court.


“We stipulated an appeal of the case, and the reasoning behind it was that they were trying to ask for jail time, which we totally disagree with,” the legal aid explained. 

“So, in fairness, it’s no need of having a trial here knowing their position. So, we have stipulated an appeal of the case. It will start anew in the Bessemer Circuit Court.”

While he agreed with the judge’s ruling on Russell’s restitution and fines, Anthony did not see eye to eye with the magistrate on jail time. Before the hoax, Russell did not have a criminal history.

“Under the circumstances of Class A misdemeanor first offense, if you can find where someone was put in jail, just bring the file to me, and I’ll look at it,” he added.

“Generally, they’re not put in jail. So we totally disagree with that. Restitution, we don’t disagree with that. But to lock up and put in jail, we disagree.”

When asked why Russell looked “nervous” when she stood before the judge to enter her not-guilty plea, Anthony claimed that she was “nervous as anyone that goes before judgment.”

“I think she understands what has happened. She has apologized. I know you all said not through me, and that’s not good enough. But she has apologized for what transpired. I don’t want her to have any type of breakdown or anything of that nature. So we’re handling her with kid gloves and trying to make sure her mental status is just fine.”

He added that people would discover why she “made a mistake.”

On X (formerly Twitter), Black X users weighed in on the verdict, with some siding with Anthony’s stance.

Author Candice Benbow penned that Russell should be given “community service” or ordered to “therapy and treatment” instead of jail time.

Another person claimed that the ruling was “harsh.” They argued that the jail recommendation was unfair as Russell did not “harm” anyone with her fake abduction story.

The pending jail sentence seemed fitting for some netizens.


At a press conference on July 24, Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis revealed that Russell admitted to lying about her 48-hour disappearance that took the media world by storm. 

The nursing student sent a statement via her lawyer, Anthony, admitting that “there was no kidnapping on July 13” and that she staged the fake kidnapping “alone.”

Russell went missing after she reported seeing a toddler walking along the I-459 highway. When she returned home on foot on July 15, the Alabama resident told Hoover Police that she was abducted by a man with orange hair with help from an unknown woman. She claimed she was held captive before escaping from her “fake” abductors. 

However, officials from the Hoover Police Department found strange evidence that didn’t add up with the nursing student’s story. According to Chief Derzis, Russell searched for the Liam Neeson abduction thriller Taken on her phone a few days before the kidnapping. She also conducted a web search for tips on how to steal money from a register without getting caught and one-way bus tickets to Nashville, Tennessee.

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