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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Texas

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New Boston, Texas Woman Guilty Of Sending Ricin Letters

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

 TEXARKANA, Texas – A 35-year-old New Boston, Texas woman has pleaded guilty to a biological weapons charge in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales and Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security. John Carlin. 
Shannon Guess Richardson pleaded guilty to an Information charging her with possession of a toxin for use as a weapon today before U.S. Magistrate judge Caroline M. Craven.  Richardson was named in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury on June 27, 2013, charging her with threatening the President of the United States, mailing a threatening letter to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and mailing a threatening letter to Mark Glaze in Washington, D.C. 

According to the information presented in court, during April-May 2013, Richardson made several online purchases of items for the purpose of producing ricin.  These supplies included castor bean seeds and sodium hydroxide (lye.)  Ricin is a biological toxin that can be fatal if ingested, inhaled, or injected.  There is no known antidote or cure for ricin poisoning. 

Richardson subsequently placed ricin onto threat letters addressed to President Barack Obama, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Mark Glaze.  On May 20, 2013, Richardson mailed the three threatening letters from the New Boston, Texas, Post Office.  On May 30, 2013, Richardson traveled to the Shreveport, LA, Police Department and reported that her husband was responsible for the ricin-laced letters.

Richardson was arrested on June 7, 2013, in Mt. Pleasant, Texas, and has been detained since that time.  She faces up to life in federal prison at sentencing.  A sentencing date has not been set. 

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the New Boston, Texas Police Department, the Shreveport, Louisiana, Police Department and the New York City Police Department.   This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank Coan, Ryan Locker and Brit Featherston, as well as Trial Attorney Jolie Zimmerman of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Updated March 12, 2015