James Dutschke, a 42-year-old martial arts instructor who lives in Mississippi was sentenced today to 25 years in prison for sending ricin-tainted letters to US President Obama and other officials in a plot to frame an Elvis impersonator.
The sentencing of James Dutschke, who is a former member of the high-I.Q. society Mensa, came a week after he told U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock he wanted to withdraw his January guilty plea but did not follow through.
James Dutschke who is originally from Toledo, admitted sending poisoned letters to Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and an 80-year-old local judge in April 2013, a week after the Boston Marathon bombings. The FBI seized several items from trash cans at or near his home, and lab tests found traces of ricin, a lethal toxin made from castor beans, along with Dutschke’s DNA. Prosecutors said he tried to pin the crime on Paul Curtis, an Elvis Presley impersonator and entertainer.
Curtis was initially arrested, but charges were dropped a week later after he raised suspicions about Dutschke, with whom he had ” a contentious personal relationship.” He has sued Dutschke for defamation.
Addressing Aycock during his original sentencing Tuesday, Dutschke professed his innocence, again implicating Curtis, alleging that many details in the pre-sentencing report were wrong and that he was the victim of a government conspiracy. He claimed the substance was actually only fertilizer, that mailing the letters was not an act of terrorism and that the recipients weren’t victims.
The judge rescheduled the sentencing, telling Dutschke to file the proper motions to withdraw his plea.
Monday, she noted he had not, and asked if he wanted to speak. “I think it would be best if I don’t,” he said before laughing, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported.
In addition to the ricin-related charges, Dutschke also pleaded guilty to state charges of molesting three of his tae kwon do students.
As part of the plea bargain, he will be sentenced May 27 to 45 years in prison, 25 of which will be suspended, the Daily Journal said. He will serve the time concurrently in a U.S. prison.
In fact, Dutschke is not the first person to for sending letters to the president. He is actually the second person in six months. In December, Shannon Richardson, 35, of New Boston, Texas, was sentenced to 18 years for possessing and producing a biological toxin.
Angry about efforts to limit firearms and ammunition, she also mailed poisoned letters in May 2013 to former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the head of a gun-control group.
Richardson is a former beauty queen and divorced mother of six children who had minor roles in the television series The Walking Dead, The Vampire Diaries, All My Children and the movie The Blind Side.