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 during a hearing 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 then shifted to Dutschke.
Dutschke, of Tupelo, has been in custody since April.
In his plea, Dutschke admitted that 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 actually 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, he purchased castor beans or seeds, a key ingredient for the manufacture of ricin, using eBay and PayPal. He also bought tools and implements such as latex gloves, grinders and masks 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.
Dutschke will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock in approximately 60 days. The federal sentence will be served concurrently with any state charges, the Justice Department said.
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