A U.S. grand jury has indicted a man suspected of sending poison-laced letters to President Barack Obama and other officials, according to an indictment made public earlier this month.
The 5-count indictment charges 41-year-old James Everett Dutschke with developing, producing and stockpiling the poison ricin, threatening the president and others and attempting to impede the investigation.
If convicted on the charges, he could face life in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
President Barack Obama on May 16 nominated Jackson attorney Debra M. Brown to be a U.S. District judge for northern Mississippi.
If confirmed, Brown would be the first African-American woman to serve as a federal district judge in the state, said a spokesman for Mississippi’s senior U.S. senator, Republican Thad Cochran.
“I congratulate Debra Brown on her historic nomination and am hopeful the Senate will conduct a timely and thorough consideration of her qualifications to join the federal bench,” Cochran said in a news release.
Charges were dropped Tuesday against the man accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama, Mississippi State Sen. Roger Wicker and a Mississippi judge Sadie Holland, while authorities searched at another man’s home in connection with the case.
The surprising move was announced in a brief document filed in federal court in Oxford hours after Paul Kevin Curtis was released from custody. The charges were dismissed without prejudice, which means they could be re-instated if prosecutors so choose.
Attorneys for Curtis have suggested he was framed, and an FBI agent testified in court this week that no evidence of ricin was found in searches of his home. At a news conference Tuesday, they declined to discuss whether they were told what new information the government had uncovered.
At approximately 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, FBI special agents arrested Paul Kevin Curtis, the individual believed to be responsible for the mailings of the three letters sent through the U.S. Postal Service which contained a granular substance that preliminarily tested positive for ricin. The letters were addressed to a U.S. senator, the White House, and a Mississippi justice official.
The U.S. Secret Service confirmed it intercepted a letter addressed to President Barack Obama that contained a “suspicious substance.”
Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said the letter was intercepted at a facility away from the White House. He said the letter was also received Tuesday.
More than half of Mississippi voters said the economy was the top issue on their minds as they voted in the presidential race Tuesday, according to a preliminary exit poll conducted for The Associated Press and other news organizations.
The economy was the most important issue, by a wide margin, while the deficit and health care were more distant concerns. A small share of voters listed foreign policy as the most important issue.