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Man pleads guilty to sending ricin letters to Obama, two others

Lauren Wood / Reuters file

Everett Dutschke speaks to the media as federal officials search his property in Tupelo, Miss., in April.

A Mississippi man accused of sending poison-laced letters to President Barack Obama, a senator and a judge pleaded guilty on Friday afternoon at a change-of-plea hearing in Oxford, Miss.

James Everett Dutschke, 41, from Tupelo, Miss., has previously denied sending letters containing the deadly substance ricin. In November, while Dutschke was behind bars, he was charged again with attempting to get someone to send more letters containing the substance on his behalf.

"It's closure, and any time you can get that it's a good thing," Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson told Reuters. Johnson's department had assisted the FBI and other agencies in identifying and arresting Dutschke last April. 

The guilty plea "has eased our community and eased our victims and the other people he could have come in contact with," said Johnson, who described Dutschke as a manipulator who thinks he can "outsmart any person of authority or any system." 

The most serious charge, production of a biological weapon, carries a potential life sentence.

Dutschke, 42, has been in jail since April on charges he sent the letters to Obama, Republican Sen. Roger Wicker and Judge Sadie Holland. Only Holland received the letters. She was not harmed.

Dutschke is also accused of trying to frame an Elvis impersonator named Paul Kevin Curtis for both the initial letters and the letters he allegedly attempted to send while in jail. Curtis initially was charged in the case, but the charges were dropped when the investigation shifted to Dutschke.

Dutschke will be sentenced in about 60 days, the Justice Department said. 

NBC News' Alessandra Malito and Reuters contributed to this report. 

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