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Man gets 25 years for ricin letters addressed to Obama

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James Everett Dutschke

(CNN) — A Mississippi man was sentenced to 25 years in prison for sending ricin-laced letters addressed to President Barack Obama and other public offices, the Justice Department said on Monday.

James Everett Dutschke, 41, of Tupelo pleaded guilty in January to possessing and mailing the threatening letters, which were dusted with the ricin — a natural and highly toxic compound extracted from castor beans.

He was arrested in April 2013 after an investigation into suspicious letters sent to Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, and a Mississippi judge.

Separately, a Florida woman pleaded guilty Monday to sending hoax letters containing a white powdery substance resembling anthrax to the offices of Florida Sens. Marco Rubio, a Republican, and Bill Nelson, a Democrat.

In a statement released by the FBI, Kathryn Cohen Allen, 47, of Jasper, mailed the letters in June 2011. Both senators’ offices were evacuated as a result. Tests later showed the substance in the letters was not hazardous.

U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley announced that Allen faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

According to court documents, Allen admitted to sending the letters in an attempt to frame a neighbor, who she said was in an interracial relationship.

Her handwriting was identified on both of the letters, according to the FBI statement.