|Miss. Man Held in Ricin Letters Probe|
|By ALEXIS SHAW (@ashaw109)||Apr 27, 2013, 11:40 AM|
The FBI has arrested and charged a Mississippi man whose home and business were searched in connection with the investigation into the ricin-tainted letters sent to the president as well as other government officials last week.
FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden confirmed to ABC News that James Everett Dutschke, 41, of Tupelo, Miss., was arrested, without incident, at his home early Saturday morning in connection with the poisonous letters.
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 and with attempting, threatening and conspiring to do the same, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney Office for the Northern District of Mississippi.
If convicted, Dutschke could face life in prison, a $250,000 fine, and five years of supervised release, the news release stated.
Dutschke is due to appear in U.S. District Court in Oxford, Miss., on April 29.
Dutschke's arrest comes after the release and dismissal of charges against Paul Kevin Curtis, of Corinth, Miss., who was arrested a day after a letter laced with the poison was discovered addressed to Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. A second letter was intercepted before it reached President Obama and a third letter was mailed to Sadie Holland, a justice of the peace in Lee County, Miss.
Dutschke's home was searched on Tuesday by federal agents after the charges against Curtis were dropped. Curtis had said that Dutschke has had a long-running conflict with him.
While officials contended that the signatures on the letters matched that of Curtis' online postings and other letters he had mailed, at a bond hearing on Monday, FBI investigators admitted that there was no physical evidence that Curtis had sent ricin, a poison made from ground castor beans, to the officials. Curtis's attorney, Christi McCoy, called for his release.
"We're just thrilled, so happy with the government," McCoy said. "Sometimes law enforcement will get on one angle and stay on that angle no matter what, and we are so happy that was not the case here. They went where the evidence led, realized it was a dead end, and went where true evidence was."
"I mean, let's be honest," McCoy said at the conference, "his Facebook page and writings directly correlated with what was sent to our officials. I haven't seen anything that makes me think they acted recklessly."
Following the bond hearing, Curtis told the court that he would no longer use computers or Facebook and that he would no longer engage in activism, believing his activities online led to his arrest.
Dutschke's attorney, Lori Nail Basham, declined to comment to ABC News.
ABC News' Colleen Curry contributed to this report.