Shannon and Nathaniel Richardson appear together during happier days.Getty Images

A television actress and mother of five framed her husband in a plot that could have come out of a poorly scripted drama.

Shannon Richardson, who appeared in bit parts in shows like "The Walking Dead" and the "Vampire Diaries," sent a ricin-laced letter to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Obama. Richardson then attempted to lead investigators to her husband, Nathaniel, as the one behind the letters, claiming that she found evidence of ricin production materials in her refrigerator.

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Although authorities initially considered the husband a suspect, eventually inconsistencies in Richardson's story, a failed polygraph and evidence that disqualified Nathaniel as a the culprit led investigators to the truth.

Though police discovered the true perpetrator early in this case, justice isn't always so swift in situations involving false accusations. Being framed for a crime you didn't commit can be a nightmare that the whole world has to wake up from before you're free. Take a look at other people who were set up for crimes they didn't commit.

Arthur Allan Thomas speaks about the detective who framed him.Getty Images

Arthur Allan Thomas was convicted not once, but twice, for murders that he didn't commit. In 1970, Harvey and Jeannette Crewe were shot and killed in their home in Pukekawa, New Zealand.

In 1979, a royal commission granted Thomas a pardon after it was determined that Detective Inspector Bruce Hutton had planted evidence -- a rifle cartridge -- at the scene in an effort to incriminate Thomas.

Randall Dale Adams is released from prison.Corbis Images

Randall Dale Adams drew the short end of the stick when he was wrongly accused of murder. But a little luck and the persistence of Adams and his lawyer, Randy Schaffer, eventually set him free.

In 1977, Adams was found guilty for murdering Dallas police officer Robert W. Wood. For the crime, he received the death sentence. Adams maintained his innocence over the 12 years he spent in prison.

During that time, he received a stay of execution from the Supreme Court -- three days before it was scheduled no less -- and had his sentence commuted to life in prison by Gov. Bill Clements. In 1988, an appeals court granted a retrial after finding inconsistencies in the evidence against Adams, particularly the perjured testimony by the real killer, David Ray Harris, who was trying to turn police attention away from himself.

Delmert Tibbs, like other former death row inmates, is an ardent anti-death penalty activist.Getty Images

Two years after leaving theology school, Delbert Tibbs was hitchhiking through Florida when he was suddenly arrested and charged with the rape of a teenage girl and murder of a young man. Though there was no evidence linking Tibbs to the crime and he had an alibi, the victim of the crime picked Tibbs as her assailant, and Tibbs' cellmate also claimed that Tibbs had confessed, so he was convicted and sentenced to death in 1974.

In appeals, Tibbs' lawyer insisted that his client was framed for the crimes. In 1977, citing the perjured testimony of the informant, who had recanted, the Florida Supreme Court reversed the case decision, and Tibbs was released from prison.

Mark Herman's checkered history made him an easy suspect for police to latch onto.Corbis Images

In 1976, millionaire Richard Kreusler returned to his Palm Beach home with his wife, Jane, from a fundraiser for then-Gov. Reubin Askew. The doorbell rang at about 10 p.m., and when Kreusler answered, he was shot twice. Although he lived for nearly two weeks after the shooting, Kreusler eventually succumbed to infection while in the hospital.

Mark Herman, a karate instructor with ties to drugs and guns, was convicted of the murder based on the testimony of four ex-convicts. Herman was sentenced to life in prison.

Years later, all four would admit that they in fact framed Herman in exchange for leniency in their own cases. In 1992, Herman walked free after his sentence was commuted by Gov. Lawton Chiles. He moved to Arizona to start a new life.

A view of the Perth MintGetty Images

In 1982, three brothers -- Brian, Peter and Ray Mickelberg -- in Western Australia made off with nearly 50 gold bars worth nearly $2 million in today's dollars in what would become known as the Perth Mint Swindle.

Except that's not really what happened. Police fabricated evidence to incriminate the Michelbergs. All three brothers were convicted of the crimes in 1983 and sentenced to double-digit jail sentences.

Brian was able to get his conviction overturned and was released from jail. He died, however, in 1986 when his plane crashed. The other two brothers, after serving out several years of their sentences, had their convictions overturned in 2004 and received cash settlements.

Barry Gibbs appears at a movie premiere with another inmate exonerated by the Innocence Project.Getty Images

During his 19 years in prison, Barry Gibbs had several chances to be released from prison on parole. Gibbs, however, never showed any remorse for the crime for which he was convicted in 1988, murdering a Brooklyn-area prostitute named Virginia Robertson. And he had a simple reason why he never showed any guilt: Gibbs always maintained his innocence.

In 2005, Gibbs walked free from prison after it was discovered that Gibbs was set up by Louis J. Eppolito, a detective who moonlighted as a mob hit man. Eppolito coerced a witness in Gibbs' case into lying.

Because of his two decades in prison for a crime he didn't commit, Gibbs reached a $9.9-million settlement against the city government, the largest of its kind in New York City history.

Dewey Bozella won his professional debut as a boxer in a unanimous decision.Corbis Images

Like Gibbs, Dewey Bozella, who went to prison in 1983 for the murder of an elderly woman, had numerous chances during his 26 years in jail to be released if he admitted his guilt and expressed remorse. Bozella chose to maintain his innocence, which only extended his sentence.

Working with the Innocence Project, Bozella eventually won his freedom after it was discovered that prosecutors had suppressed evidence from the crime scene. While in prison, Bozella trained as a boxer, and would go on to make his debut as a professional fighter after his release at age 52.

Brian Banks trains with the Atlanta Falcons.Corbis Images

In the summer of 2002, Brian Banks was about to begin senior year of high school, a promising athlete with his eyes on a college career and the possibility of the NFL in his future. Unfortunately for Banks, his prospects were set aside when he was accused of rape by classmate Wanetta Gibson.

Rather than face the possibility of 41 years in prison, Banks admitted to the crime and received a five-year sentence, which he served, and had to register as a sex offender. During that time, Gibson successfully sued Long Beach Unified School District for failing to provide a safe environment and won a $1.5 million settlement.

After Banks left prison, he was contacted out of the blue by Gibson on Facebook. Gibson admitted her guilt over fabricating the crime to Banks in person. What Gibson didn't realize was that Banks was recording the whole thing. Banks' conviction was later reversed 10 years after the crime first occurred.

Banks is now trying to make a football comeback. The Long Beach School District sued Gibson for $2 million two months ago.