Mississippi man receives 300-month sentence in ricin case

James Dutschke, a Mississippi man who pleaded guilty in January to developing, possessing and mailing the biological agent ricin, was sentenced to 300 months in prison on Monday.

U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock also sentenced Dutschke to serve a five-year term of supervised release. Dutschke was arrested on April 27, 2013, and indicted by a federal grand jury on June 3, following an investigation by the FBI.

On January 17, Dutschke pleaded guilty to one count of developing and possessing ricin and three subsequent counts of mailing threatening letters laced with the substance to multiple political figures. Dutschke sent letters to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Mississippi Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland and President Barack Obama.

Dutschke agreed to serve a 300-month prison sentence and waived his right to appeal as part of a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office.

John Carlin, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's National Security Division; Felicia Adams, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi; Daniel McMullen, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Jackson Field Office; and Craig Caldwell, the special agent in charge of the Secret Service's Birmingham, Alabama District Field Office, announced Dutschke's sentence.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ricin is a poison found naturally in castor beans. When made into a partially purified or refined material, the toxin prevents human cells from making the proteins they need to survive, causing injury and death.