Miss. martial arts instructor arrested in ricin-letter case

Updated

The FBI arrested a Mississippi man in connection to the ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama and two other officials, police said Saturday.

James Everett Dutschke, a 41-year-old martial arts instructor, was at his home in Tupelo, Miss., when federal agents arrested him without incident at around 1 a.m. Saturday, NBC News affiliate WTVA reported. He was later charged with possessing and threatening to use ricin as a biological weapon, and if convicted faces the maximum possible penalties of life imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, the Justice Department announced.

This month, authorities intercepted letters sent to Obama, Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, and Lee County Judge Sadie Holland, containing a white powder that tests confirmed as ricin—a sometimes deadly poison made from castor beans.

On Tuesday, U.S. prosecutors dropped criminal charges against another Mississippi man initially accused of mailing the letters. The FBI said it had no evidence pinning Paul Kevin Curtis, a sometimes Elvis impersonator who was first targeted in the investigation. Curtis held a news conference after his release saying he had been framed by Dutschke. “I respect President Obama,” he said. “I love my country and would never do anything to pose a threat to him or any other U.S. official.”

Investigators searched Dutschke’s home on Tuesday following a preliminary hearing for Curtis’ initial charges.

Miss. martial arts instructor arrested in ricin-letter case

Updated