US court jails man who sent lethal letter to Obama

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A Mississippi man who concocted and then sent potentially lethal ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama and other senior US officials was jailed Monday for 25 years.

James Everett Dutschke, a 41-year-old martial arts instructor, pleaded guilty in January to charges of developing and possessing ricin and mailing ricin-impregnated letters, including the one that threatened Obama, said the US Justice Department.

Ricin is a biological agent and toxin which can be lethal in only the tiniest amounts.

Dutschke purchased castor beans or seeds – from which ricin is made – on the Internet before buying tools to process and develop the poison, such as latex gloves, grinders and masks.

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He then sent three ricin-laced letters: to Obama, a US senator, and a Mississippi Justice Court judge. The letter never reached the president because it was intercepted at a mail screening site.

Police had initially arrested another man, an Elvis impersonator named Paul Kevin Curtis.

However, Curtis’s attorney said his client had been framed, and suggested Dutschke was responsible

Dutschke, who was arrested in April 2013, was known to have had a long-standing dispute with the Mississippi justice who received one of the letters.