Guilty plea in Obama ricin attack

A 41-year-old Mississippi man pleaded guilty Friday to charges that he sent ricin-laced letters to President Obama, the Justice Department announced.

James Everett Dutschke of Tupelo agreed to a 300-month prison sentence in a plea deal struck with prosecutors and filed in federal district court. He is scheduled for formal sentencing in 60 days.

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Dutschke is pleading guilty to developing and possessing ricin and mailing threatening letters laced with the deadly substance. One of the letters, intercepted by authorities last April, threatened Obama “with bodily harm,” the Justice Department said. Another letter was sent to the office of Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and a third was mailed to a judge in Mississippi.

Prosecutors allege the letters were part of a scheme Dutschke developed to frame another man for the crime. Mississippian Paul Kevin Curtis was initially arrested in connection with the case, but was ultimately released.

Court papers show Dutschke researched how to produce and use ricin — a biological toxin — on the Internet. He purchased castor beans or seeds, a key ingredient, via eBay and PayPal.  Additionally, he purchased other tools and implements such as latex gloves, grinders and masks from area vendors, according to the documents, which also accuse Dutschke of drafting and mailing the letters.
 
Dutschke was arrested on April 27, 2013, and indicted by a federal grand jury on June 3, 2013.

The letter addressed to Obama was discovered at a remote White House mail screening facility, and never presented an immediate threat to the president, the Secret Service said at the time.