Mississippi Man Pleads Guilty in Ricin Letter Investigation
|U.S. Department of Justice January 23, 2014|
WASHINGTON—James Everett Dutschke, 41, of Tupelo, Mississippi, pleaded guilty today in federal district court in Oxford, Mississippi, to developing and possessing the biological agent ricin and subsequently mailing ricin-laced, threatening letters, including one that threatened bodily harm to the president of the United States.
The plea was announced by John Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Felicia Adams, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi; and Daniel McMullen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Jackson Field Office.
According to court documents, Dutschke developed a scheme to retaliate and frame another individual by mailing threatening letters. As part of the scheme, he used the Internet to research how to produce and use ricin, a biological agent and toxin. According to the documents, he purchased castor beans or seeds, a key ingredient for the manufacture and production of ricin, from vendors via eBay and PayPal. Additionally, he purchased other tools and implements such as latex gloves, grinders, and masks from area vendors to develop the toxin.
According to the documents, he then produced ricin for use as a weapon, drafted the letters, and mailed them using the U.S. mail system. Three letters were mailed to the president of the United States, a U.S. senator and a Mississippi Justice Court judge, each one containing ricin.
Following an investigation, Dutschke was arrested on April 27, 2013, and indicted by a federal grand jury on June 3, 2013. A superseding indictment was filed on November 20, 2013. According to the plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Oxford, Dutschke has agreed to serve a 300-month prison sentence. He will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock in approximately 60 days.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Jackson and Memphis Joint Terrorism Task Forces, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Capitol Police and was assisted by the following state and local agencies: Mississippi National Guard 47th Civil Support, Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Prentiss County Sheriff’s Office, Corinth Police Department, Tupelo Police Department, and Booneville Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Chad Lamar, Clay Joyner, and Clyde McGee of the Northern District of Mississippi and Andrew Sigler of the Department of Justice, National Security Division.