Former Dallas beauty queen and actress Shannon Guess Richardson, now 36 years old, pleaded guilty on December 10 in a Texarkana, Texas, federal courtroom to sending ricin-laced letters to both N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.S President Barack Obama. On July 16, Richardson – described by USA Today as a “minor” actress – was sentenced to 18 years behind bars. In addition to her significant jail time, Richardson will also be paying $367,000 in restitution as part of a plea deal which assured that she wouldn’t be going to jail for longer than her 18 year sentence.
Specifically, the former actress, a.k.a. Shannon Guess, whose acting credits include minor roles in TV’s “The Walking Dead”, “The Vampire Diaries”, “Franklin & Bash”, and the big screen’s “The Blind Side”, had already pleaded guilty to the federal charge of possessing and producing a biological toxin, ricin, according to a separate report from USA Today. Ricin is toxic and can cause respiratory failure if inhaled.
Richardson was arrested in June 2013 after authorities said she tried to implicate her ex-husband, Nathan Richardson, after he had filed for divorce. Prosecutors in the case against Richardson said that while going through that divorce in May 2013, she mailed three letters originating from just outside Texarkana, and then “went to police and claimed that her husband had done it.”
Authorities became suspicious of the former actress after noting several inconsistencies in her statements, and even more so after discovering that she bought the necessary materials to produce ricin over the Internet. Court papers showed that the letter sent to President Obama 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. Anyone wants to come to my house will get shot in the face." ~ The Huffington Post
Prior to her sentencing today, Richardson took the opportunity to speak in court and apologize for her actions. Addressing U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider, Richardson said, "I never intended for anybody to be hurt. I'm not a bad person. I don't have it in me to hurt anyone." She concluded her statements by saying that she loves her country and respects her president. The judge wasn’t moved. Schneider said that the actions of the former actress placed
"… 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."