Shannon Richardson Charged By the Feds With Allegedly Mailing Ricin Letters

June 10, 2013

Huffington Post on June 8, 2013 released the following:

By NOMAAN MERCHANT and DANNY ROBBINS AP

Shannon Richardson Tried To Frame Husband Nathaniel Richardson For Ricin Letters: FBI

TEXARKANA, Texas — Shannon Richardson had been married to her husband less than two years when she went to authorities and told them her suspicions: He was the one who had mailed ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg threatening violence against gun-control advocates.

When investigators looked closer, they reached a different conclusion: It was the 35-year-old pregnant actress who had sent the letters, and she tried to frame her estranged husband in a bizarre case of marital conflict crossing with bioterrorism.

Those allegations are detailed in court documents filed Friday as Richardson was arrested and charged with mailing a threatening communication to the president. The federal charge carries up to 10 years in prison, U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman Davilyn Walston said.

Richardson, a mother of five who has played bit roles on television and in movies, is accused of mailing the ricin-laced letters to the White House, to Bloomberg and to the mayor’s Washington gun-control group last month.

Richardson’s court-appointed attorney, Tonda Curry, said there was no intention to harm anyone and noted that it’s common knowledge that 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,” Curry said.

According to an FBI affidavit, Richardson contacted authorities on May 30 and implicated her husband, Nathaniel Richardson. She described finding small, brown beans with white speckles – a description matching the key ingredient in ricin, castor beans – at the couple’s home in New Boston, Texas. She also told investigators that she had found a sticky note on her husband’s desk with addresses for Bloomberg and Obama, the affidavit said.

But she later failed a polygraph test, the document said, and investigators looking into her story found numerous inconsistencies. Among them: Nathaniel Richardson would have been at work when Internet searches tied to the letters were made on the couple’s laptop and when the envelopes containing the letters were postmarked.

Finally, the affidavit says, in an interview with authorities on Thursday, Shannon Richardson admitted that she had received syringes and lye – a caustic chemical used in making ricin – in the mail; that she had printed the labels for the letters; and that she mailed them. However, she insisted her husband typed them and “made her” print and send them, the affidavit says.

No charges have been filed against her husband. His attorney, John Delk, told The Associated Press on Friday that his client was pleased with his wife’s arrest and was working with authorities to prove his innocence.

Delk previously told the AP that the couple is going through a divorce and that the 33-year-old Army veteran may have been “set up” by his wife. In divorce papers filed Thursday, Nathanial Richardson said the marriage had become “insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities.”

FBI agents wearing hazardous material suits were seen going in and out of the Richardsons’ house on Wednesday in nearby New Boston, about 150 miles northeast of Dallas near the Arkansas and Oklahoma borders. Authorities conducted a similar search on May 31.

The house is now under quarantine for “environmental or toxic agents,” according to a posting at the residence. Multiple samples taken from the couples’ home tested positive for ricin, according to the affidavit. Federal agents also found castor beans along with syringes and other items that could be used to extract the lethal poison, the affidavit says.

Bloomberg issued a statement Friday 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 appears in movies and on TV under the name Shannon Guess. Her 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.

Delk said the Richardsons were expecting their first 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.

Nathaniel Richardson works as a mechanic at the Red River Army Depot near Texarkana, Texas, a facility that repairs tanks, Humvees and other mobile military equipment. He and Shannon were married in October 2011.

A detention hearing for Shannon Richardson is scheduled for next Friday, court records show, and the government is requesting that she be held without bond.

The FBI is investigating at least three cases over the past two months in which ricin was mailed to Obama and other public figures. Ricin has been sent to officials sporadically over the years, but experts say that there seems to be a recent uptick and that copycat attacks – made possible by the relative ease of extracting the poison – may be the reason.

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 if properly prepared. No antidote is available, though researchers are trying to develop one.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


“FBI arrests Mississippi man in ricin letter case”

April 18, 2013

Reuters on April 18, 2013 released the following:

“By Tabassum Zakaria and Jeff Mason

(Reuters) – The FBI arrested a Mississippi man on Wednesday in connection with letters sent to President Barack Obama and two other officials that are believed to have contained the deadly poison ricin, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Paul Kevin Curtis was arrested at his home in Corinth, Mississippi, and is “believed to be responsible for the mailings of the three letters sent through the U.S. Postal Inspection Service which contained a granular substance that preliminarily tested positive for ricin,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

The letters were addressed to a U.S. senator, the White House and a Mississippi justice official, the statement said.

The ricin poison scare hit Washington after bombings at the Boston Marathon killed three people and injured 176 on Monday, but the FBI said there was no indication the incidents were connected.

The FBI said the envelope sent to Obama was received at a mail-screening facility outside the White House and was immediately quarantined. Preliminary tests showed it contained the deadly poison ricin, the FBI said

Washington was put on edge on Tuesday evening when news emerged that authorities had intercepted a letter sent to Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi that had initially tested positive for ricin.

Following the arrest, Wicker issued a statement thanking the FBI and Capitol Police “for their professionalism and decisive action in keeping our family and staff safe from harm.”

Earlier on Wednesday, a flurry of reports of suspicious letters and packages rattled the U.S. capital and caused the temporary evacuation of parts of two Senate buildings. Most of the reports quickly proved to be false alarms, and business was only temporarily disrupted on Capitol Hill.

The letters to Obama and Wicker had identical language, included the phrase, “To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance.” They were signed, “I am KC and I approve this message,” according to an FBI operations bulletin reviewed by Reuters.

Two law enforcement sources said investigators believed the man arrested was the same person as Kevin Curtis, who they say has posted rants on the Internet and performed as an entertainer and Elvis Presley impersonator.

In an online comment on an Elvis blog post in 2007, a Kevin Curtis complained that several Elvis contests in several states “were rigged with hosts and judges getting kick-backs.” The signature was: “This is Kevin Curtis and I approve this message.”

Northern District Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, who said he was related to Elvis Presley, told Reuters that Curtis contacted him via Facebook late on Sunday asking him if he was a relative of the late rock singer.

Presley said he did not know Curtis. “I don’t know if he’s fixated on Elvis or Elvis’ family or what,” he said. “We’ve been told by the authorities to be very cautious with our mail for the next few days.”

Public records show a Paul Kevin Curtis lived until recently in Booneville, Mississippi. Randy Tolar, a sheriff in Prentiss County, where Booneville is located, said he knew a Paul Kevin Curtis who had been jailed at least four times in recent years, all on misdemeanor charges, including telephone harassment and stalking.

The envelopes believed to contain ricin both bore postmarks from Memphis, Tennessee, and were dated April 8. Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton noted in a statement, however, that it did not mean the letters originated in that city.

An aide to Wharton said many areas near Memphis were included in its postmark – including some in neighboring northern Mississippi, Wicker’s state.

For Washingtonians, the situation was an unsettling reminder of events of nearly 12 years ago when letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to the Washington offices of two senators and to media outlets in New York and Florida, not long after the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington.

LETHAL POISON

The FBI said White House operations were not affected by the latest scare. It noted that filters at a second government mail-screening facility had preliminarily tested positive for ricin this morning” and mail from that facility was also being tested.

The tests were being conducted at Fort Detrick, in Frederick, Maryland, a government source said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama had been briefed on the situation.

Ricin is a lethal poison found naturally in castor beans, but it takes a deliberate act to convert it into a biological weapon. Ricin can cause death within 36 to 72 hours from exposure to an amount as small as a pinhead. No known antidote exists.

There was another ricin scare at the U.S. Capitol in 2004, when tests showed positive on a letter in a Senate mail room that served the office of Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican who was then Senate majority leader.

SERIES OF SUSPICIOUS ITEMS

Law enforcement authorities on Wednesday closed and then reopened parts of the Hart and Russell Senate buildings near the Capitol after tests on suspect items showed there was no threat.

“All test results were negative,” U.S. Capitol Police said over the public address system in Senate office buildings.

Police questioned a man with a backpack who had been delivering envelopes to Senate offices, a law enforcement official said. This delivery method broke the normal protocol, because no mail is supposed to be delivered without first being checked at an outside facility, Capitol officials said.

In Arizona, the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said two suspicious letters had been sent to Republican Senator Jeff Flake’s Phoenix office. Two staffers and a police officer were taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure after reporting irritation when handling them.

Flake later issued a statement on Wednesday saying no dangerous materials were detected in the mailings. One of them originated in Tennessee, Flake told reporters outside the Senate.

In Ohio, Columbus police responded to a report of a suspicious letter received on Wednesday at Republican Senator Rob Portman’s office, but determined it was not dangerous, Portman’s office said.

Democratic Senator Carl Levin said one of his Michigan regional offices had also received a suspicious letter, but it was not opened. Authorities are investigating, and a staff member went to the hospital as a precautionary measure, he said.

It is unclear if there was a connection linking the series of suspicious items delivered to politicians.

The Senate’s sergeant at arms, Terrance Gainer, sent a memo to all offices telling them only to accept mail from a uniformed Senate post office employee and, when in doubt, to call the police.

He said mail was being delivered that had already been cleared, but there would be no mail delivered on Thursday and Friday to allow more testing and investigation.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.