A minor actress from Texas was sentenced Wednesday to 18 years in prison for sending ricin-tainted letters to President Obama, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and the head of his gun-control group.
Shannon Guess Richardson, 36, was also ordered to pay $367,000 restitution as part of a plea bargain for pleading guilty in December to one count of developing, producing, possessing and transferring a biological agent for use as a weapon. She bought the materials — castor bean seeds and lye — online.
The FBI arrested her in June 2013 after she was indicted by a federal grand jury. She gave bith the next month while in jail.
Richardson mailed three letters in May 2013 from her home in New Boston, near Texarkana, and then drove to a Shreveport, La., police station to implicate her estranged husband, who had filed for divorce. She told the FBI she did not think the letters would be opened because of security measures.
“What’s in this letter is nothing compared to what ive got in store for you mr president,” read the letter to Obama. “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.”
A former Dallas beauty queen, she had bit parts in TV series and film, including The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead, Franklin & Bash, All My Children and The Blind Side.
Richardson apologized Wednesday before being sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider.
“I never intended for anybody to be hurt,” she said. “I’m not a bad person. I don’t have it in me to hurt anyone.”
“I do love my country, and I respect my president,” she added.
Schneider said Richardson’s actions “put many lives in danger and threatened public officials at the highest level of government. The defendant claims that she did not intend to harm anyone, but certainly her actions could have had grave consequences.”
Ricin is a biological toxin that can be fatal if inhaled or swallowed. There is no antidote or cure.
* Text by USAToday, July 16, 2014