Shannon Richardson. Photo Reuters
The Texas actress who admitted making toxins to send to
President Barack Obama and the mayor of New York was more
intent on framing her husband than in killing prominent
politicians, a federal prosecutor says.
Shannon Guess Richardson, 36, pleaded guilty in federal court
in Texarkana on Tuesday to making the toxic agent ricin that
was sent in letters in May to Obama, Mayor Michael Bloomberg
and a gun control advocate.
"In a bizarre way, I don't know that Shannon ever wanted to
hurt anyone except her husband. She set up an elaborate
scheme to set up Mr. Richardson," US Attorney Malcolm Bales
said in an interview with Reuters.
Exposure to even a small amount of ricin can cause death and
no known antidote exists.
As part of a deal reached with federal prosecutors,
Richardson, 36, would spend 18 years in prison and then five
years on supervised release in exchange for her guilty plea,
according to court documents.
Richardson, whose career included minor television roles in
shows such as "The Walking Dead," tried to blame her husband
for the letters, according to prosecutors.
Richardson told Shreveport, Louisiana police on May 30 that
her husband, Nathan Richardson, was carrying out a plot to
mail the toxin to Obama and Bloomberg.
"There is no evidence to indicate that anyone else is
involved other than Shannon Richardson. But she's the one.
You've seen movies like this ... a black widow sort of
thing," Bales said.
In a court document signed by Richardson, she outlines how
she extracted the toxin using castor beans, lye and syringes
that she bought with her husband's credit card.
"We thought this was her Lifetime movie. It's really hard to
tell a story like this in the same fashion over again. The
story that she told about (her husband) really unraveled
quickly. Thank God nobody was hurt," Bales said.
Ricin cases are relatively new and rare in the federal
courts. Cases must be cleared by the a U.S. counter-terrorism
division before they are filed, Bales said.
Ricin, a highly toxic substance, is found naturally in castor
beans, but it takes a deliberate act to manufacture it and
use it to poison people, according to the US Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention.