DALLAS (AP) — A Texas woman and former actress pleaded guilty Tuesday to sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, under a deal that her attorney has said would cap prison time at 18 years.
Shannon Guess Richardson entered her plea in federal court in Texarkana, Texas, to a federal charge of possessing and producing a biological toxin.
Richardson was arrested in June after authorities said she tried to implicate her estranged husband, Nathan Richardson, after he had filed for divorce. Prosecutors say Shannon Richardson mailed three letters from New Boston, outside Texarkana, then went to police and claimed that her husband had done it.
Richardson, 35, has had minor roles in the television series "The Walking Dead" and the movie "The Blind Side." She also is the mother of six children — including one child born prematurely while she was in custody this year.
Prosecutors say investigators noted inconsistencies in Richardson's statements and later learned that she had purchased materials online to produce ricin, a toxin that can cause respiratory failure if inhaled.
She acknowledged in a signed plea agreement document filed Tuesday that she ordered castor beans online and learned how to process them into a substance used to make ricin. She obtained an email address, a PayPal shopping account and a post office box in her husband's name without his knowledge, according to the document.
On the morning of May 20, she said, she waited for Nathan Richardson to go to 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.