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Feds charge Mississippi man in case of ricin-laced letter sent to Obama

 

A Mississippi man was charged Saturday in connection with sending ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama and two other public officials, according to authorities.

Everett Dutschke, of Tupelo, Miss., faces federal charges including the possession, development and stockpiling of a biological toxin and a delivery system to use as a weapon.

The 41-year-old Dutschke is a martial arts instructor. He was arrested Saturday morning by FBI agents at his home, then turned over to U.S. marshals who took him into custody.

Dutschke is scheduled to appear Monday in a federal court in Mississippi and faces a maximum penalty, if convicted, of life in prison.

Federal investigators dropped charges Tuesday against their first known suspect, Mississippi resident and Elvis impersonator Paul Kevin Curtis.

Dutschke’s home and business were searched prior to Saturday as part of an investigation into the ricin-laced letters allegedly sent to Obama, Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker and a judge.

Dutschke's attorney, Lori Nail Basham, has not responded so far Saturday to requests for comment.

Earlier in the week, Basham denied her client’s involvement in the letters. Dutschke also denied involvement.

"My family knows I don't have anything to do with this," he said.  "The people who actually know me, know I don't have anything to do with this."

There are reports of an ongoing feud between Curtis and Dutschke.

Curtis' attorney, Christi McCoy, said Saturday: "We are relieved but also saddened. This crime is nothing short of diabolical. I have seen a lot of meanness in the past two decades, but this stops me in my tracks. "

Judge Sadie Holland, who was allegedly sent a letter, is a common link between the two men who have been investigated, and both know Wicker.

Holland was the presiding judge in a case in which Curtis was accused of assaulting a Tupelo attorney in 2004. Holland sentenced him to six months in the county jail. He served only part of the sentence, according to his brother.

Holland's family has had political skirmishes with Dutschke.

Her son, Steve Holland, a Democratic state representative, said he thinks his mother's only other encounter with Dutschke was at a rally in the town of Verona in 2007, when Dutschke ran against him as a Republican.

Holland said his mother confronted Dutschke after he made a derogatory speech about the Holland family. She demanded that he apologize, which Holland says he did.

Steve Holland said he doesn't know if his mother remembers Curtis' assault case.

Wicker spokesman Ryan Taylor declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.