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Mississippi man charged in ricin case

| Saturday, April 27, 2013, 5:57 p.m.
Everett Dutschke of Tupelo, Miss., maintains his innocence in a case of ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama and other officials. “I’m a patriotic American. I don’t have any grudges against anybody,' he says.

BRANDON, Miss. — A Mississippi man was charged on Saturday with making and possessing ricin for use as a weapon as part of the investigation into poison-laced letters sent to President Obama and others, authorities said.

U.S. Attorney Felicia Adams and Daniel McMullen, the FBI agent in charge in Mississippi, made the announcement in a news release following the arrest of 41-year-old James Everett Dutschke.

FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden said Dutschke was arrested about 12:50 a.m. Saturday in his home in Tupelo.

The letters, which tests showed were tainted with ricin, were sent on April 8 to Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and 80-year-old Mississippi Judge Sadie Holland.

Dutschke is expected to appear on Monday in U.S. District Court in Oxford.

If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

The news release said Dutschke was charged with “knowingly developing, producing, stockpiling, transferring, acquiring, retaining and possessing a biological agent, toxin and delivery system, for use as a weapon, to wit: ricin.”

Dutschke's house, business and vehicles were searched earlier last week and he had been under surveillance.

Dutschke's attorney, Lori Nail Basham, said in a text message that “the authorities have confirmed Mr. Dutschke's arrest. We have no comment at this time.”

Last week, Basham said that Dutschke was “cooperating fully” with investigators. Dutschke has insisted he had nothing to do with the letters.

Ryan Taylor, a spokesman for Wicker, said that “because the investigation is still ongoing, we're not able to comment.”

Charges in the case initially were filed against an Elvis impersonator but then dropped. Attention then turned to Dutschke, who authorities say has ties to the former suspect, the judge and the senator. Earlier in the week, as investigators searched his primary residence in Tupelo, Dutschke told The Associated Press, “I don't know how much more of this I can take.”

“I'm a patriotic American. I don't have any grudges against anybody. ... I did not send the letters,” Dutschke said.

Charges were dropped against, Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, the Elvis impersonator, when authorities said they had discovered new information. Curtis' lawyers say he was framed.

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