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Mississippi man charged in ricin case

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Posted at 3:27 PM, Apr 27, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-27 15:27:42-04

TUPELO, Mississippi (CNN) – A Mississippi man has been charged with being in possession of a biological toxin in connection with the investigation into ricin-tainted letters sent to President Barack Obama, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of Mississippi said in a statement released Saturday.

James Everett Dutschke, 41, of Tupelo, has been arrested, authorities said earlier.

He is expected to appear in the U.S. District Court in Oxford, Mississippi, on Monday before Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander, the statement said.

FBI agents arrested Dutschke at his home early Saturday without incident, said FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden. Earlier this week, agents searched Dutschke’s residence and former martial arts studio, though it’s not clear what they found.

On Tuesday, prosecutors dropped charges against another man, Paul Kevin Curtis of Corinth, Mississippi, who was arrested April 17 and accused of sending a threat to the president after letters containing a suspicious powder triggered security scares around Washington.

At a court hearing the day before the charges were dropped, Curtis said he was being framed and identified Dutschke as a potential culprit.

The letters — sent to Obama; Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi; and Sadie Holland, a judge in Lee County, Mississippi — touched off anxieties in Washington and elsewhere in the wake of the bombs at the Boston Marathon. The two incidents were unconnected, officials said.

The FBI said the letters tested positive for ricin, a toxin derived from castor beans that has no known antidote. No illnesses have been reported.

The letters read, in part: “To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance.”

They were signed “I am KC and I approve this message,” a source told CNN.

Each letter had a Memphis, Tennessee, postmark and no return address.

Dutschke’s attorney, Lori Basham, has said her client used to work for Curtis’ brother, but the two have had no contact since 2010. Basham declined to comment on Dutschke’s arrest Saturday.

Curtis said Wednesday that he didn’t even know what ricin was until he got out of jail and looked it up on the Internet.

When police suddenly stormed his home last week, Curtis said an investigator asked him about ricin, and Curtis said he responded, “Well, I don’t eat rice, and I don’t have any rice in the house.”

Asked about the arrest Saturday, a White House official told CNN that Obama has been kept abreast of developments throughout the ordeal.