Friday 23 March 2018

Actress charged over ricin threat

Authorities search a residence in New Boston, Texas, in connection with an investigation into ricin-laced letters (AP/Texarkana Gazette, Evan Lewis)
Authorities search a residence in New Boston, Texas, in connection with an investigation into ricin-laced letters (AP/Texarkana Gazette, Evan Lewis)
Actress Shannon Richardson was charged with mailing a threatening communication to the US President (AP/Texarkana Gazette)

A pregnant actress who told FBI agents her husband had sent ricin-tainted letters to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been charged with threatening the president.

Shannon Guess Richardson made an initial court appearance after being charged with posting a threatening communication to the President. She could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted, US attorney's office spokeswoman Davilyn Walston said.

Richardson, 35, was arrested earlier in the day for allegedly posting the ricin-laced letters last month.

FBI agents wearing hazardous material suits were seen going in and out of Richardson's house on Wednesday in nearby New Boston, north east of Dallas near the Arkansas and Oklahoma borders. Officials have said the search was initiated after Richardson contacted the FBI and implicated her husband, Nathaniel Richardson.

John Delk, who represents Nathaniel Richardson, said that his client had filed for divorce and may have been set up by his wife. He said his client was cooperating with authorities investigating the letters, which were sent last month to Mr Bloomberg, his Washington gun-control group and the White House threatening violence against gun-control advocates. "There are a lot of factors I'm aware of that indicate (Nathaniel Richardson) was set up in this deal by her," Mr Delk said.

Mr Delk said his client, a 33-year-old Army veteran, came to him to discuss a potential divorce a year ago and finally hired him on May 6, weeks before the ricin incident came to light.

Mr Bloomberg issued a statement thanking local and federal law enforcement agencies "for their outstanding work in apprehending a suspect", saying they worked collaboratively from the outset "and will continue to do so as the investigation continues."

Shannon Richardson's resume on the Internet movie database IMDb said she has had small television roles in The Vampire Diaries and The Walking Dead. She had a minor role in the movie The Blind Side and appeared in an Avis commercial, according to the resume.

Mr Delk said the Richardsons were expecting their first child in October. Shannon Richardson also has five children ranging in age from four to 19 from other relationships, four of whom had been living with the couple in the New Boston home, the attorney said.

The FBI is investigating at least three cases over the past two months in which ricin was posted to Mr Obama and other public figures.

Press Association

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