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Texas woman gets 18yrs in prison for sending ricin to the President

Updated: Thursday, July 17 2014, 12:04 PM CDT

A Texas actress who tried to blame her husband after sending ricin-laced
letters to officials including President Barack Obama was sentenced
Wednesday to 18 years in prison.

A federal judge gave Shannon Guess Richardson, 36, the maximum sentence
under her plea deal on a federal charge of possessing and producing a
biological toxin. Richardson was also ordered to pay restitution of
about $367,000. She had pleaded guilty to the charge in December.

"I never intended for anybody to be hurt," she told the court, adding
later, "I'm not a bad person; I don't have it in me to hurt anyone."

Judge Michael H. Schneider noted that she had put many lives in danger and threatened public officials.

Richardson, who had minor acting roles in film and television including
in the series "The Walking Dead" and the movie "The Blind Side," said
she thought security measures would prevent anyone from opening the
letters addressed to Obama, then New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and
Mark Glaze, who at the time was director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns,
Bloomberg's group advocating for tougher gun control.

Prosecutors say Richardson mailed the three letters from New Boston,
outside Texarkana, then went to police and claimed that her husband had
done it. She was arrested last June. The day before her arrest, Nathan
Richardson filed for divorce; it was finalized in January.

Prosecutors say investigators noted inconsistencies in Richardson's
statements. She also acknowledged in a signed plea agreement that she
ordered castor beans online and learned how to process them into a
substance used to make ricin, a toxin that can cause respiratory failure
if inhaled.

She obtained an email address, a PayPal shopping account and a post
office box in her husband's name without his knowledge, according to the

On the morning of May 20, 2013, she said she waited for her husband to go to work and then printed the mailing labels.

The letter to Obama read, "What's in this letter is nothing compared to
what I've got in store for you Mr president," according to the document.
"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."

She eventually admitted to trying to blame her husband and lying to authorities.

In asking the judge for leniency Wednesday, Richardson apologized and
asked for "mercy and compassion," saying that she'd already been
"punished dearly" by being away from her six children, who she described
as "her world." Her youngest was born prematurely while she was in

"The sentiments expressed in those letters were not mine," Richardson said.

Richardson also was tearful at times. "I don't feel like I was in my right mind leading up to that point," she said.

Richardson's attorney, Tonda Curry, said her client was "exuding desperation to get out of the situation she was in."

Texas woman gets 18yrs in prison for sending ricin to the President

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