An actress who has appeared in TV hits The Walking Dead and The Vampire Diaries has been sentenced to 18 years behind bars for sending ricin-laced letters to U.S. President Barack Obama and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Shannon Rogers Richardson pleaded guilty to the crime in December (13), six months after she was arrested for sending three 'poisoned' notes to Obama, Bloomberg and his colleague Mark Glaze, threatening harm if they continued to push for tougher gun control laws.
The highly-toxic substance, which can cause death, caused minor injuries to one mail clerk, but the letters never made it to her intended targets.
The 36 year old, also known as Shannon Guess Richardson, appeared in a federal court in Texarkana, Texas on Wednesday (16Jul14), when she used the opportunity to apologise to her victims, stating, "I never intended to hurt anyone."
Richardson was ordered to spend the next 18 years in a federal prison. Once completed, she must also spend five years on supervised release and pay $367,000 (£215,882) in restitution.
She had initially blamed her estranged husband Nathaniel Richardson for sending the letters. He filed for divorce last year (Jun13).
British pop star Tulisa Contostavlos brokered a $1,360 (£800) cocaine deal for an undercover reporter after becoming convinced he was a movie producer who was lining her up for a major Hollywood role opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, a court has heard.
The former N-Dubz singer is on trial for allegedly arranging for a drug-dealing pal to sell half an ounce of the illegal drug to a man she believed was a leading film studio boss.
However, he was really notorious U.K. undercover journalist Mazher Mahmood, and Contostavlos was subsequently charged by cops after the story appeared in The Sun on Sunday newspaper.
At the opening of her trial at London's Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday (16Jul14), the jury was told Contostavlos was once a member of a street gang which sold crack cocaine. She met with Mahmood - who was using the cover name 'Samir Khan' - at swanky hotels in Las Vegas and London last year (13) after he told her agent he could land her a role in a "big production" alongside Titanic star DiCaprio.
Prosecutor Timothy Cray told the court, "It is clear the defendant was very keen to break into films and she and her manager swallowed the story completely. She was told that she would be more suitable for the film than Keira Knightley or Kate Winslet."
The jury heard that the pop star, who was also a judge and mentor on the U.K.'s The X Factor for two seasons, later agreed to sell Mahmood cocaine and used the term "white sweets" as code for the drug in text messages.
She allegedly arranged for her pal, rapper Mike Coombs, to supply the drug to the reporter in a room at London's Dorchester hotel in May, 2013.
The prosecutor added, "We say that the defendant was instrumental in arranging the supply of cocaine carried out in the Dorchester... Although the defendant had not negotiated the price or the amount, she had done all she could to make a supply of cocaine happen and the charge reflects her involvement in the supply of the drug."
Contostavlos, of Friern Barnet, north London, denies being concerned in the supply of cocaine. The trial continues.
Warner Bros via Everett Collection
Actor Rob Lowe has been tapped to play a murdered hotel heir in an upcoming TV movie.
The Hollywood veteran has been cast as Ben Novack, Jr., the slain millionaire heir to popular Miami, Florida resort, the Fontainebleau hotel, in Beautiful and Twisted.
The film will also star Candice Bergen as Novack Jr.'s mother, Bernice, and Spanish actress Paz Vega, who will portray the hotel boss' wife, Narcy, a former stripper.
In 2012, Narcy Novack was sentenced to life behind bars after she was found guilty of murdering her husband.
Three people have pleaded not guilty to disorderly conduct charges after allegedly hurling beer bottles at Taylor Swift's Rhode Island home and shouting at a security guard. Connecticut residents Michael Horrigan, 29, Tristan Kading, 28, and Emily Kading, 26, were arrested outside the country hitmaker's beachfront property last month (Jun14). They appeared in a Rhode Island court on Friday (11Jul14), when they each pleaded their innocence. The court date took place weeks after Tristan Kading told TMZ.com their behaviour had simply gotten out of hand while they were drinking. The singer was not at home at the time of the incident.
A rapper pal of British pop star Tulisa Contostavlos has pleaded guilty to supplying cocaine to an undercover journalist, on the eve of the pair's trial. The former N-Dubz star is accused of brokering a deal for half an ounce of the drug by arranging a meeting between the reporter and Michael Coombs, who is known professionally as Mike GLC, in May last year (13).
Contostavlos denies the charge, but at the start of their joint trial in London on Monday (14Jul14), Coombs changed his plea and admitted being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.
He will be sentenced at the end of Contostavlos' trial, which is due to open before a jury on Tuesday (15Jul14).
The pop star, of Friern Barnet, north London, denies being concerned in the supply of cocaine.
British TV icon Stephen Fry stunned guests at a political fundraiser on Wednesday (09Jul14) by taking aim at a high-profile investigation into allegations of sex abuse against some of the U.K.'s most popular stars. Operation Yewtree was launched following the shocking revelations of TV and radio host Sir Jimmy Savile's widespread historic sexual abuse, and it has led to the successful prosecution of stars including entertainer Rolf Harris, TV host Stuart Hall, and PR guru Max Clifford for offences committed in the 1960s and '70s.
However Fry, who was hosting the Labour Party event at London's Roundhouse, reportedly reminded guests that "fewer than half" of those held in the probe have been convicted, urged attendees to remember "people are innocent until proven guilty", and called for tougher punishments for those who make false claims.
Attempts to prosecute comedians Jim Davidson, Jimmy Tarbuck and Freddie Starr, as well as Coronation Street actor William Roache, failed after months of negative publicity.
One guest at the event tells Britain's Mail on Sunday newspaper, "It was all a bit awkward. There was a smattering of applause, but mostly there was just this deadly silence."
Fry's friend, BBC DJ Paul Gambaccini, was arrested in October (13) under Operation Yewtree on suspicion of historical sexual offences but was released on bail and was later cleared of any wrongdoing, and Fry is understood to be angry that the failure to charge Gambaccini has received less publicity than his initial arrest.
TV funnyman Tracy Morgan is suing U.S. retail giant Walmart following the car crash last month (Jun14) that left him in intensive care. Walmart truck driver Kevin Roper is accused of falling asleep at the wheel and causing a multi-vehicle accident when he slammed into the back of Morgan's limousine in New Jersey, killing Morgan's colleague James 'Jimmy Mack' McNair and hospitalising several others.
The lawsuit, filed in New Jersey on Thursday (10Jul14), alleges the company should have known Roper had been awake for more than 24 hours and that his drive from Georgia, where he lives, to work in Delaware was "unreasonable".
The suit reads, "Wal-Mart was careless and negligent in the ownership and operation of its motor vehicle, which caused Mr. Morgan to suffer severe personal injuries. As a direct and proximate result of said collision, Mr. Morgan was caused to sustain severe painful bodily injuries, including but not limited to multiple fractures which required multiple surgeries, extensive medical treatment and will require significant physical rehabilitation."
The plaintiffs, which also include Morgan's assistant Jeffrey Millea and comedian Ardie Fuqua, who were also injured in the crash, are seeking damages, legal fees, and pre- and post-judgment interest.
The 30 Rock star was moved to a rehabilitation facility last month (Jun14) after his condition was upgraded from critical to fair.
Roper has pleaded not guilty to charges of vehicular homicide and assault by auto.
Members of a New York grand jury have been tasked with deciding whether hip-hop veteran Flavor Flav should be indicted on traffic and drugs charges following an arrest in January (14). The Public Enemy star, real name William Drayton, faces a count of speeding and felony aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle after his car was pulled over by police in Long Island, where he was due to attend his mother's funeral.
He was also slapped with a charge of marijuana possession.
Flavor Flav, who has pleaded not guilty to the accusations, returned to court in Nassau County on Friday (11Jul14), when his lawyer, Indji Bessim, revealed they had still yet to reach a plea deal with prosecutors.
She said, "(We are) just not prepared to take a felony plea today."
The case was subsequently handed over to a grand jury.
The 55-year-old rapper had previously expressed a desire to reach an agreement with authorities as the frequent flights from his home in Las Vegas to New York to attend the court hearings were becoming too costly.
Rocker Varg Vikernes has been convicted of inciting racial hatred, according to reports in his native Norway. The Burzum frontman was arrested in Salon-La-Tour, France last year (13) over allegations he was planning a massacre but he was released days later because of insufficient evidence.
He was subsequently charged with inciting racial hatred over allegations he made offensive remarks about Muslims and Jews online, and he has now reportedly been convicted of the offence.
According to Norwegian newspaper The Local, officials at a court in France have given the rocker a six-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of $10,880 (£6,400).
Self-confessed neo-Nazi Vikernes, who was released from a 21-year prison sentence for murder in 2009, had previously denied being responsible for the online comments, claiming others had written them.
Hollywood veteran Mel Gibson has spoken out in defence of troubled actor Shia Labeouf, insisting his recent bizarre behaviour is proof he is "suffering in some way". The Transformers star is currently seeking treatment for alcoholism after he was escorted out of a Broadway show and arrested following an altercation with theatre security staff on 26 June (14). He was subsequently charged with disorderly conduct, criminal trespass and harassment, but pleaded not guilty to the counts.
The incident was the latest in a string of headline-grabbing stunts, including wearing a brown paper bag on his head while walking the red carpet at a German film festival earlier this year (14) and using the same prop as part of an odd art installation in Los Angeles.
Now Gibson, who has faced his own personal controversies, including a 2006 DUI arrest, during which he hurled anti-Semitic remarks at a Jewish police officer, admits he sympathises with LaBeouf, because he knows how hard living life under the public eye can be.
However, Gibson is confident the 28 year old will bounce back from his troubles.
In a candid interview with IndieWire.com, the Braveheart actor says, "You're a target. And you have to be really adept at tap dancing and dodging the bullets. And sometimes you get hit. And sometimes mortally. It's pretty bad.
"When I see someone like Shia LaBeouf with the bag on his head and stuff, my heart goes out to the poor guy. I think he's suffering in some way.
"Why would he do that? People are inclined to sort of point the finger at him and say that he's this, that, or the other. It's easy to judge. But I'm sure he's going through some kind of personal, very painful, cathartic thing that he has to exorcise and get out there. He'll probably play it out and come back. Whatever it happens to be.
"He'll be all right. I actually like the kid. I think he's good. I never met him, but I like him."