Updated: If found guilty, Shannon Richardson faces up to 10 years in prison
Actress Shannon Richardson has been arrested and charged for allegedly sending ricin-tainted letters to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a law enforcement official confirmed to TheWrap.
The 36-year-old has appeared in small television roles on “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Walking Dead,” according to her iMDb page.
Richardson is charged with mailing a threatening communication to the President of the United States, the U.S. Attorney's office said in a statement. According to the arrest affidavit, on May 20, 2013, Richardson is alleged to have actually mailed three letters containing the toxin ricin. The letters were sent to President Barack Obama and Mark Glaze in Washington, D.C., and Mayor Michael Bloomberg in New York City. Richardson was arrested today in Mt. Pleasant, Texas, and appeared before Judge Craven this afternoon in Texarkana, Texas, for an initial appearance.
FBI agents wearing hazardous material suits were seen going in and out of her house Wednesday in New Boston, about 150 miles northeast of Dallas near the Oklahoma and Arkansas borders, according to the Associated Press. Richardson, who is reportedly pregnant, originally called the FBI to implicate her husband, Nathaniel Richardson, in the crimes.
John Delk, Nathaniel Richardson's attorney, said his client had filed for divorce, which he believes explains her motive to frame her husband.
"There are a lot of factors I'm aware of that indicate (Nathaniel Richardson) was set up in this deal by her," Delk told the AP.
If inhaled, ricin can cause respiratory failure, among other symptoms. If swallowed, it can shut down the liver and other organs, resulting in death. The amount of ricin that can fit on the head of a pin is said to be enough to kill an adult, the AP reported.
If convicted, Richardson faces up to 10 years in federal prison.