Shannon Richardson, the Texas actress who pleaded guilty in December to sending letters laced with ricin to President Barack Obama and then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, received a sentence Wednesday of 18 years in prison.
Richardson, 36, who had minor roles in the television series The Walking Dead and the movie The Blind Side, was ordered to pay $367,000 in restitution.
John Bales, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, released a statement saying, “Today’s sentencing brings an appropriate and just end to what is surely one of our most unusual, even bizarre cases.”
Richardson could have gotten a maximum penalty of life in prison, but she participated in a plea deal that stipulates she would not serve more than 18 years.
In December, Richardson pleaded guilty in federal court in Texarkana, Texas, to a federal charge of possessing and producing a biological toxin. Her arrest came in June 2013, after she tried to implicate her estranged husband, Nathan Richardson, after he filed for divorce. She mailed three letters from New Boston, outside Texarkana, then she went to the police and told them her husband had mailed the letters.
Richardson is the mother of six children, including a child born prematurely while she was in custody last year who is currently with her husband.
After investigators noted inconsistencies in Richardson’s statements, they later learned that she had purchased materials online to produce ricin, a poison that can cause respiratory failure if inhaled.
In her plea agreement document, Richardson said she ordered castor beans online and learned how to process them into a substance used to make ricin. She got an email address, a PayPal shopping account and a post office box, all in her husband’s name without his knowledge.
In May 2013, she sprang into action after her husband left for 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.
The letter to Obama, according to the document, read: “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,” the letter read. “Anyone wants to come to my house will get shot in the face.”
After she mailed the letters, she admitted to authorities that she had lied to police and tried to blame her husband.