Karen Belz
June 14, 2013 8:00 am

You might have heard of Shannon Guess Richardson – and if you haven’t, you’ll definitely hear a lot about her soon. Richardson was arrested last week on suspicion of sending ricin-tainted letters to President Obama and Michael Bloomberg back in May. Ricin is a highly toxic powder that can be fatal to humans, even in small doses.

Here’s a brief summary of Shannon Richardson – currently pregnant with her sixth child at the age of 36, she called the police to tell them that she found what looked to be ricin in the refrigerator, in hopes of setting up her (third) husband Nathaniel.

Turns out the two are on the brink of a divorce. You might best remember her as being “Zombie” on The Walking Dead, and “Student” in The Blind Side. Oh – and according to her IMDB biography, she “plays a flute”. Not the flute, but a flute.

We all know that Richardson isn’t the first actress to have some type of run-in with the law, nor is she the last. Here are 5 of the most surprising female celebrity brushes with danger.

Lucy Lawless – Protesting

Actress Lucy Lawless was arrested in in February of 2012 in New Zealand, where she was protesting oil drilling in the area. To be more specific, she climbed onto the Noble Discoverer – which was a docked oil ship – and chained herself to the ship’s tower.

Lawless was just one of the seven Greenpeace activists taken into custody. She was charged with trespassing, and pleaded guilty in June of 2012.

While she avoided a three year stint in prison, she was sentenced to 120 hours of community service and ordered to pay a total of $4,438 in reparation to the Port of Taranaki.

Since I kind of dig her as Ron Swanson’s girlfriend on Parks & Recreation, I’m glad it ended the way it did.

Reese Witherspoon – Disorderly Conduct

Reese’s arrest is still fresh in everyone’s mind, having happened on April 19th of this year. After having one (or five) too many and hitting the road, police stopped Mr. Reese Witherspoon (er – Jim Toth) after some questionable driving.

While Toth was following the police officer’s orders, our girl Reese freaked out a bit – repeatedly getting out of the car to interrogate the officer for performing the necessary tests on Toth to see if he was over the limit. Even though Toth told the officer he only had one drink, his Breathalyzer results told a different story.

Reese also busted out the “Do you know my name?” line, hoping the officer would forgive her and her husband for possibly murdering somebody, since she was in Sweet Home Alabama. The story was especially shocking because – it’s Reese Witherspoon! Nobody expected the innocent girl who was in about 50 movies about love triangles to get caught up in a mess like this. Do we still nominate actresses for being America’s Sweetheart, or was that a ’90s thing? Because for awhile there, she was a top contender.

Winona Ryder – Shoplifting

Back in 2001, I was one of the few who believed that nothing bad could happen with online shopping, and bought a “Free Winona” t-shirt. That shirt was a prized possession, until it suffered an unfortunate meet-up with bleach.

Winona Ryder is possibly one of the most famous shoplifters of our generation – even moreso than Lindsay Lohan (Sorry, Lindsay – but Winona’s incident kind of came out of nowhere.)

Ryder was accused of putting about five thousand dollars worth of clothes and accessories into her bag with the security tags ripped off, and was promptly arrested at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills after video cameras caught the whole thing.

She said the incident was caused by painkillers that were prescribed to her by a “quack doctor” after she broke her arm in two places two months prior. The pills – which she probably took longer than she should have – were said to have left her confused.

Ashlee Simpson – McDrunk and Disorderly

While Ashlee wasn’t arrested for threatening the staff while being a little less than sober at a Canadian McDonalds, the moment lives on forever thanks to a fellow patron’s cell phone.

As you can see, Ashlee even tries to bypass the counter at one point during the 2005 tirade. But, to be fair, the mid-2000’s were mighty tough for the younger Simpson. In 2004, she was caught lip-synching on Saturday Night Live (remember the nervous hoedown?) The following January, she was booed at the 2005 Orange Bowl halftime show when the audience felt she was just too off key. Following that, a petition was created online for her to stop making music all together.

When asked about the incident, Ashlee kind of wrote it off by allegedly saying “I was being a little, you know, silly and crazy that day. The guy in line behind me was like, ‘Uh, you’re gross’ but he didn’t know who I was until I turned around. Then he was like, ‘Can I have my picture with you?'” and I was like, ‘Dude, you called me gross!'”

Young Hollywood, take note: Everyone’s got a camera on them these days.

Britney Spears – Custody Dispute

I can’t close this list out without talking about Britney. But first, here’s a disclaimer: Britney, I’m so proud of you. I own about three of your albums, and remember exactly where I was when I saw your music video for “Hit Me Baby (One More Time)” debut on TRL. While I’m going to discuss your rough patch, you’ve seriously rebounded back to the girl we always knew you were.

So, the year is 2007. In February, Britney walked into a salon and shaved her head. Merely days later, she was photographed attacking a paparazzi’s car with an umbrella. Later, she faced a hit-and-run and had her visitation rights with her two sons, Sean Preston and Jayden James, suspended.

Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services begins its investigation of child abuse and neglect allegations in the custody battle case at the end of the year, after Britney was caught running a red light with both sons in the car.

In January of 2008, police were called to her house to resolve a custody dispute – after a three hour standoff, an intoxicated Spears turned her sons over to ex-Kevin Federline, and was taken by ambulance to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. So, Britney pretty much held her sons hostage. Around twenty police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, and even helicopters surrounded her house during the incident.

Britney’s custody battle ended in July of 2008 – both her and Kevin agreed upon Kevin retaining sole legal and physical custody of Sean Preston and Jayden James, while Britney had visitation rights that were likely to be extended over time.

What female celebrities would you add to our list? Any bets on whether or not Shannon Guess Richardson’s career will rebound after these terrible allegations? We’d love to hear your comments!

Image Credits: ckmprospector.com (featured), pinkisthenewblog.com (Lawless), myfoxatlanta.com (Witherspoon), tmz.com (Alba) dailymail.co.uk (Britney)

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