A Mississippi man who tried to frame an Elvis Presley impersonator has pleaded guilty to sending threatening letters laced with the toxin ricin to President Obama and other officials, the Justice Department said Friday.
James Everett Dutschke, 42, entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Oxford, Miss. He will receive a sentence of 25 years in prison, authorities said.
According to court documents, Dutschke developed a scheme to frame Paul Kevin Curtis by mailing the poisoned, threatening letters, the Justice Department said. Curtis, a Mississippi-based Elvis impersonator, was originally charged with sending the letters.
Curtis has said that he and Dutschke, a martial-arts expert, have feuded for years. All charges were eventually dropped against Curtis, and the investigation shifted to Dutschke.
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Dutschke, of Tupelo, has been in custody since April.
In his plea, Dutschke admitted he had developed and possessed ricin and had mailed letters with the poison to Obama; Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; and a Mississippi judge. The judge, the only one to receive a letter, was unharmed. The letters to Obama and Wicker were intercepted.
Dutschke used the Internet to research how to produce and use ricin, a biological toxin, the Justice Department said.
According to the documents, using eBay and PayPal he purchased castor beans or seeds, a key ingredient for the manufacture of ricin. He also bought tools and implements from area vendors to develop the toxin, prosecutors said.
Dutschke originally entered a plea of not guilty and denied sending the letters. He also denied a later charge that, while incarcerated, he tried to recruit someone else to send a ricin-tainted letter.
The 25-year sentence included in the plea agreement would run concurrently with any sentence Dutschke would face in state court, where he’s facing unrelated fondling charges.