Texas Actress Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges for Ricin-Laced Letters

Woman Who Sent Ricin Letters to Obama, Bloomberg Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges

ricinOn Tuesday, December 10th, a Texas-based mother of six and former actress pleaded guilty to federal charges for sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Shannon Guess Richardson’s guilty plea was part of a deal to limit her prison sentence to only 18 years. She was in court for a federal charge of possessing and producing a biological toxin.

Richardson, a 35-year-old mother of six and actress who had small parts on The Walking Dead and The Blind Side, was arrested on federal charges in June after she admitted to sending the letters to implicate her estranged husband, Nathan Richardson, of terrorism after he filed for divorce. According to prosecutors and her own testimony, Richardson purchased castor beans online, and learned how to process them to create the deadly neurotoxin, ricin. She obtained a PO Box, PayPal account, and email address in her ex-husband’s name without his consent or knowledge.

On the morning of May 20th, Richardson waited for her husband to go to work. “After he left the house, I printed the mailing labels for President Barack Obama, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Mark Glaze with The Raben Group,” Richardson said in the document. Glaze is director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Bloomberg’s group advocating for tougher gun control.

After mailing the letters, she admitted to lying to police to implicate her husband in a terrorism plot.

The letters involved the national gun control debate. The ricin-laced letter to President Obama reportedly said, “What’s in this letter is nothing compared to what ive got in store for you mr president … You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone wants to come to my house will get shot in the face.”

Ricin Letters More Frequent

Federal authorities say that, although ricin-laced letters were a sporadic problem for many years, recently, several copycat crimes have cropped up. They believe it is because manufacturing techniques have made extracting the poison much easier.

Ricin is a highly toxic, naturally occurring carbohydrate-binding protein. Whether inhaled, injected, or ingested, the poison inhibits protein synthesis. If untreated, death occurs within 3 to 5 days after exposure.

Three recent incidents of ricin letters led federal investigators on a wild chase through the postal system to several suspects, and eventually to Richardson. The letters had been mailed from Shreveport, Louisiana, last month.

Indictment for Federal Charges in South Carolina

Our federal criminal defense lawyers handle federal charges involving:

  • Fraudulent insurance claims
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If you have been arrested on federal charges, from RICO charges to terrorism, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. We offer free, confidential consultations so you can discuss the facts of your case with impunity. Contact us today.803.252.4800.

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