An actress and former beauty queen who sent ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and the New York City mayor has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Shannon Guess Richardson was arrested in June 2013 after she posted letters to the President, the then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg as well as a gun control advocate – a bizarre act she blamed on her husband.
The 36-year-old Texan, who had bit parts in The Vampire Diaries and movie The Blind Side, pleaded guilty to possessing and producing a biological toxin and received the maximum sentence yesterday. She was also ordered to pay a fee of $367,000 (£214,000).
“I never intended for anybody to be hurt,” she told the court. “I'm not a bad person. I don't have it in me to hurt anyone.”
Richardson, who gave birth while in custody, had attempted to frame her estranged husband in the crime after obtaining a PayPal account and post office box in his name.
A signed plea document details how she had ordered castor beans from the internet, learnt how to turn them into ricin and then waited patiently for her husband, Nathan Richardson, to go to work on 20 May 2013.
She printed address labels for each of the recipients – the third of which was Mark Glaze, Director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
The letter to Obama read: “What's in this letter is nothing compared to what I’ve 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.”
Before sentencing, Richardson appealed to the judge for “mercy and compassion” saying that she had already been “punished dearly” by being separated from her six children.
“The sentiments expressed in those letters were not mine,” Richardson added.
She reportedly thought that security measures at each of the victim's addresses would have prevented them from opening the letters.
Her husband has since filed for divorce.
Additional reporting by AP