published Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

Texas ricin suspect cuts deal, details unknown




Shannon Richardson is placed into a Titus County Sheriff's car after an initial appearance at the federal building Texarkana, Texas, in this June 7, 2013 file photo.
Shannon Richardson is placed into a Titus County Sheriff's car after an initial appearance at the federal building Texarkana, Texas, in this June 7, 2013 file photo.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

TEXARKANA, Texas — A Texas woman accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors, a newspaper reported Saturday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Coan added into the case docket for Shannon Guess Richardson a one-line entry that states "notice of plea agreement," the Texarkana Gazette reported.

Authorities say the New Boston, Texas, actress mailed ricin-laced letters to Obama, Bloomberg and a leader of the mayor's gun-control group. Court documents state the then-pregnant Richardson tried to frame her husband for the crime.

The terms of the deal have not yet been made public, and a Dec. 2 pretrial hearing has been canceled. However, it is possible that the terms of the agreement will be discussed at another hearing, the newspaper reported. Typically, as part of a plea deal, a hearing is held so a defendant can change their plea to guilty.

Richardson's court-appointed attorney, Tonda Curry, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Richardson, 35, has been charged with two counts of threat by mail and one of threatening the president. She remains jailed after giving birth in July.

Richardson has been in federal custody since June 7. Later that month, a federal grand jury handed down a three-count indictment.

Authorities allege that Richardson created a ricin-type concoction using castor beans, bulk lye and syringes she ordered over the Internet. Three letters she mailed, one to Obama, one to Bloomberg and a third to Michael Glaze, head of the gun-control group, tested positive for ricin, according to an FBI criminal complaint.

If convicted, Richardson could face up to five years in federal prison for each offense and a fine of up to $250,000.

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