NEW BOSTON, TX (KSLA) - A pregnant Texas actress who first told the FBI that her husband sent ricin-tainted letters to President Barack Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, then allegedly said she sent them because her husband "made her" do it, was charged Friday with threatening the president.
Shannon Richardson, 35, is charged with mailing a threatening communication to the President of the United States.
However, Richardson's court-appointed attorney, Tonda Curry, said there was no intention to harm anyone. She noted that it's common knowledge that the mail is checked before it reaches the person to whom these letters were addressed.
"From what I can say, based on what evidence I've seen, whoever did this crime never intended for ricin to reach the people to which the letters were addressed," said Tyler lawyer Tonda Curry.
Curry said she has met with Richardson only briefly and has had no extensive talks with her.
Both Shannon Richardson and her husband Nathan were questioned last week by federal agents, following a raid of their Twin Oaks home on Thursday night. Nathan Richardson initially appeared to be the focus of the investigation, but it was Shannon Richardson that was arrested Friday morning.
"It should be clear from the arrest today that we are on the right path," says Nathan Richardson's attorney, John Delk.
The criminal complaint filed against Richardson on Friday confirms that the search was initiated at the home after the Shannon traveled to Shreveport on May 30 and told FBI that her husband sent the ricin letters to President Obama, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Washington D.C.-based gun control group.
According to the complaint, investigators were able to determine that the letters were mailed from the New Boston, Texas or Texarkana, Texas area, and processed through the Shreveport Processing and distribution center.
Shannon Richardson allegedly told investigators that she had found sticky notes in their home with the addresses for Bloomberg, his Washington D.C. gun control group and President Obama. She says she also described seeing Tupperware containers and small brown, speckled beans and tools belonging to her husband on the back porch of their home.
Federal investigators went to the Red River Army Depot that day, and interviewed Nathan Richardson at work. When confronted by Shannon's allegations, he denied involvement and claimed that Shannon wanted to end the marriage and leave him. According to the criminal complaint, Nathan alleged that Shannon was responsible for intentionally misleading investigators, when she was actually the one responsible.
Later that night, in a search of the Richardson's home and property, agents found a dozen small brown beans in rolling around loose in the trunk of Nathan Richardson's car. They have since been determined to be castor beans, from which ricin can be made.
Forensic investigators determined that two separate orders for castor beans, syringes and bulk lye were placed from computers in the Richardson home. Those items were found in the home, and samples of various substances and items taken from the home tested positive for ricin.
However, investigators say in the complaint that Shannon failed a polygraph test, and that some of the details she provided investigators did not match up.
Agents also note that Nathan was working a 10-hour shift on the day the letters were postmarked, and that his departure or absence from the assembly line would have been noted.
After being confronted with all of the inconsistencies and evidence gathered by investigators Thursday morning at a hotel in Mt. Pleasant, the complaint says Shannon admitted to ordering the syringes and lye in the mail, printing the mailing labels for the letters and mailing them knowing they contained ricin - but continued to claimed that her husband was the one who ordered the ricin and typed the letters.
Richardson, who is pregnant, was seen going into the federal courthouse in downtown Texarkana just before noon, accompanied by federal agents. About an hour later, agents transported her to CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital. She later returned to the federal courthouse, where she appeared before a federal judge in U.S. District Court in Texarkana to face the charge. She is now in the custody of the U.S. Marshals.
A detention hearing set for Friday, June 14, 2pm.
If convicted, Richardson faces up to 10 years in federal prison.
The arrest comes one day after Nathan Richardson filed for divorce in Bowie County District Court. "My client married the wrong person, she tried pointing the finger and it came back on her," said Delk, who initially was hired to represent Nathan in the divorce. Now, he's representing him in the federal investigation, too. And while he says the arrest is what he expected all along, his client isn't out of the woods just yet.
"The first hurdle is over, the options are, he did it, she did it, or they did it. We've got her involved, so it's either they did it, or she did it. We're trying to prove she did it and my client wasn't involved."
Under Texas law, the Richardsons divorce won't be final until after Shannon, who is expecting, gives birth to the couple's child in October. Shannon Richardson also has five children ranging in age from 4 to 19 from other relationships, four of whom had been living with the couple in the New Boston home, the attorney said.
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.
Stay tuned to KSLA News 12 and ksla.com for continuing developments.