Dutschke indicted in ricin-letter scheme

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal


OXFORD – James Everett Dutschke of Tupelo stands officially accused of a scheme to mail poison letters to President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland.
He’s also accused of trying to blame someone else for it.
The five-count indictment returned Friday by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of Mississippi was made public Monday.
The indictment charges the former martial arts instructor with:
• One count of knowingly making the poison ricin for use as a weapon.
• One count of making threats against the president.
• Two counts of threatening others by mail.
• One count of falsifying, concealing and covering up by trick, scheme and fraudulent device, material facts, to impede the investigation of threatening letters containing ricin, in an effort to make it appear that someone else had sent the threatening letters.
Dutschke is expected to appear Thursday in Oxford before U. S. Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander.
Since his arrest, the former martial arts instructor has been held without bond in the Lafayette County Detention Center.
Dutschke, 41, was arrested April 27 at his South Canal Street home 10 days after another man, Elvis tribute artist Kevin Curtis of Corinth, was accused of the letter scheme and jailed while the FBI investigated the charges against him.
Curtis’ attorneys, Christi R. McCoy and Hal Neilsen of Oxford, forced prosecutors to defend their claims, and ultimately, the government admitted it had no link between Curtis and ricin. They released him and dropped the charges on April 23.
But Dutschke’s name surfaced as they sought to know who might want to frame Curtis, hearing claims of a long-standing feud between the two men.
Dutschke contends he is not guilty.
Recently, at least two other letters containing what is believed to be ricin were discovered in the mail to Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. No suspects have been announced, but authorities report they were mailed from Shreveport, La.
The first letters, mailed in Tupelo on April 8, also went to Wicker and Holland.
If convicted on all charges, Dutschke faces up to life in prison.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com