Wisconsin man pleads guilty to ricin possession

Kyle Allen Smith, a 21-year-old former University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh student, pleaded guilty to a federal charge of possession of ricin, the FBI said on Thursday.

Smith was arrested after two Wisconsin professors reported to campus police that he had been making unusual inquiries about chemical processes. One of the inquiries involved the extraction of ribosomal inhibiting proteins, the kind found in ricin toxin.

As part of a plea agreement, Smith admitted to growing castor bean plants and extracting ricin after a sample that had been submitted to the Department of Homeland Security tested positive for the toxin. The charge holds a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Ricin is lethal to humans in small doses and affects cells by inhibiting protein production and can lead to multiple organ failure and tissue necrosis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said symptoms of ricin poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulty and nausea. Death can occur between 36 and 72 hours after contact through injection, inhalation or ingestion.



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