Texas Actress Admits to Mailing Ricin to Obama

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on December 11, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A former actress from Texas pleaded guilty to a biological weapons charge for sending letters laced with ricin to President Barack Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The thespian's ricin plot entailed revenge against her husband and threats against politicians, but her punishment will be limited significantly due to her guilty plea.

Ricin-Laced Revenge Plot

Shannon Guess Richardson -- an actress who had minor roles in the television series "The Walking Dead" and the movie "The Blind Side" -- was arrested in June for trying to implicate her estranged husband in a ricin plot after he had filed for divorce, reports the Associated Press.

In an attempt to frame her husband, Richardson mailed three ricin-laced letters about gun rights to President Obama, Mayor Bloomberg, and Mark Glaze, director of pro-gun control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. She then went to police and claimed that her husband had done it.

But her twisted revenge plot quickly unraveled when investigators noted inconsistencies in her statements and later learned that she purchased materials online to make ricin, a natural poison derived from castor beans.

Plea Deal

Richardson entered her plea in federal court in Texarkana, Texas, to a federal charge of possessing and producing a biological toxin.

Though Richardson could have faced life in prison for the charge to which she pleaded guilty, she and prosecutors agreed to a deal capping Richardson's sentence at 18 years, reports the AP.

Now, it's up to a federal judge to impose a sentence on Richardson. Federal judges are required to consider a number of factors when sentencing a criminal defendant, such as:

  • The circumstances of the crime and the defendant's personal circumstances or criminal history;
  • The need for the sentence to reflect the gravity of the crime, fairly punish the crime, and deter future crime;
  • The sentencing range provided for by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines;
  • Relevant policy statements by the U.S. Sentencing Commission or Congress; and
  • The goal of imposing similar sentences for similar criminal conduct among defendants.

As the mother of six children, it's possible that Richardson may gain a tad bit of leniency for her personal circumstances, but given the seriousness of the ricin plot, it's not likely.

Those suffering from the pangs of unrequited love should learn from Richardson's mistake. When exacting revenge on your former flame, keep it legal and ricin-free.

Related Resources:

Copied to clipboard