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Texas Actress Who Sent Ricin-Laced Letters To Obama Sentenced To 18 Years In Prison

Shannon Guess Richardson, who played a zombie on The Walking Dead, had blamed her husband for sending pro-gun letters laced with ricin to the President and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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Shannon Guess Richardson, a Texas actress who sent ricin-laced letters to officials including President Obama and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg last year, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Wednesday.

AP Photo/Texarkana Gazette, Evan Lewis

In 2013, Richardson was arrested for sending ricin-laced letters to Obama, Bloomberg and Mark Glaze, who was the director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns at the time. Her letter to Obama said: "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."

Richardson then tried to blame her husband for sending the letters. The couple got divorced in January.

Richardson, who had minor acting roles in The Walking Dead and The Blind Side, was given the maximum sentence under her plea deal on a federal charge of possessing and producing a biological toxin, the Associated Press reported.

She was also ordered to pay restitution of about $367,000.

Richardson admitted that she ordered castor beans online and learned how to process them to make ricin — a toxin that causes respiratory failure if inhaled.

AP Photo/The Texarkana Gazette, Curt Youngblood, File

Richardson told the court Wednesday that the "sentiments expressed in those letters were not mine." She broke into tears, saying, "I don't feel like I was in my right mind leading up to that point."

Richardson said that she thought security measures would prevent anyone from opening the letters. She apologized and asked for "mercy and compassion."

Handout / Reuters

Asking the judge for leniency, 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 said that she'd already been "punished dearly" by being away from her six children, who were "her world." Her youngest child was born prematurely while she was in custody.

Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at

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