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Mississippi man charged with attempted use of a biological weapon in ricin case

Police in Tupelo, Miss., say James Everett Dutschke has been charged with possession of a biological agent with intent to use as a weapon in connection with letters addressed to President Barack Obama and others that initially tested positive for the poison ricin. NBC's Janet Shamlian reports.

A Tupelo, Miss. man has been arrested and charged in connection with the letters addressed to President Obama and a U.S. senator that initially tested positive for the poison ricin, police said Saturday.

James Everett Dutschke, 41, was charged with possessing and attempting to use ricin as a biological weapon, the Department of Justice announced. Dutschke could face life imprisonment and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

He was arrested in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday morning by federal agents. Investigators searched Dutschke’s home on Tuesday in the expanding case into the letters sent to the president, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker and Lee County, Miss., Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland.

The arrest took place at Everett’s home in Tupelo without incident, an FBI spokesperson said.

The possibility that Dutschke might be of interest to investigators was raised earlier in the week by an attorney representing another Mississippi resident, Paul Kevin Curtis, who was arrested on April 18. Charges against Curtis were dropped on Tuesday.

“I respect President Obama and love my country,” Curtis said at a news conference on Tuesday. “I would never do anything to pose a threat to him or any other U.S. official.”

As Dutschke’s home was searched on Tuesday, he told reporters that he had nothing to do with the case.

“I guess Kevin got desperate,” Dutschke told the Jackson Clarion Ledger. “I feel like he’s getting away with the perfect crime.”

“I don’t know anything about this. Where are the allegations coming from? Who made the allegations? The defense attorney for the accused,” Dutschke said.

Curtis, 45, a professional Elvis impersonator, was the first man arrested in the case. Wicker said that he recognized the man after his arrest, and had once hired the man he called “very entertaining” to perform as Elvis at a party.

The FBI arrested Tupelo, Miss., resident Everett Dutschke in connection to the ricin-laced letters sent to President Obama and two other officials, police said Saturday. NBC News' Kristen Welker reports.

The letters sent to Obama and Wicker were both postmarked April 8, 2013, and mailed out of Memphis, Tenn. They end with an identical phrase, according to an FBI bulletin obtained by NBC News: “to see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance.”

The letters also ended with the message, “I am KC and I approve this message.”

An FBI agent testified on Monday that a search of Curtis’ home and vehicle did not turn up any ricin or castor beans, which are used to make the poison.

“There was no apparent ricin, castor beans, or any material there that could be used for the manufacturing, like a blender or something,” Agent Brandon Grant said in a courtroom in Oxford, Miss., according to the Associated Press.