The woman who mailed letters containing ricin last year to the White House and then-New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg was sentenced Wednesday to 18 years in federal prison.
Shannon Richardson, 36, of New Boston,Texas, admitted that she ordered supplies in her husband's name, made a form of the deadly toxin ricin, sent the letters in May 2013, then told the police she suspected her estranged husband did it. Suspicion turned to her when the statements she made to investigators were inconsistent. The letters sent to President Obama and Bloomberg's New York office were intercepted at off-site mail screening facilities. The letter sent to Bloomberg's gun-control organization in Washington was opened by an official of the group, Mark Glaze, who was not injured.
Her mailings were the second attempt last year to frame someone else for sending threatening ricin letters. In April 2013, a Mississippi man, James Everett Dutschke, addressed letters containing ricin to President Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker, and a Mississippi state court judge. Prosecutors said it was an attempt to blame a rival — an Elvis impersonator named Paul Kevin Curtis. The letters sent to Obama and Wicker were intercepted, but the one to the judge was delivered. It caused no injury. Dutschke was sentenced to 25 years in prison for sending the letters.
First published July 16 2014, 10:53 AM
Pete Williams is an NBC News correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He has been covering the Justice Department and the U.S. Supreme Court since March 1993. Williams was also a key reporter on the Microsoft anti-trust trial and Judge Jackson's decision.
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Prior to joining NBC, Williams served as a press official on Capitol Hill for many years. In 1986 he joined the Washington, D.C. staff of then Congressman Dick Cheney as press secretary and a legislative assistant. In 1989, when Cheney was named Assistant Secretary of Defense, Williams was appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. While in that position, Williams was named Government Communicator of the Year in 1991 by the National Association of Government Communicators.
A native of Casper, Wyo. and a 1974 graduate of Stanford University, Williams was a reporter and news director at KTWO-TV and Radio in Casper from 1974 to 1985. Working with the Radio-Television News Directors Association, for which he served as a member of its board of directors, he successfully lobbied the Wyoming Supreme Court to permit broadcast coverage of its proceedings and twice sued Wyoming judges over pre-trial exclusion of reporters from the courtroom. For these efforts, he received a First Amendment Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.