Miss. man charged with threatening Obama in ricin case

11:55 AM, Apr 18, 2013   |    comments
A Prince George's County, Md., firefighter dressed in a protective suit walks out of a government mail screening facility in Hyattsville, Md., on Wednesday. (Photo: Alex Brandon, AP)
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WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) -- The Mississippi man accused of mailing letters with suspected ricin has been charged with threatening President Obama and others.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release Thursday that 45-year-old Paul Kevin Curtis faced two federal charges accusing him of threatening the president and others.

Curtis was to appear in federal court Thursday. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison.

An affidavit says the letters sent to Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and a judge in Mississippi told the recipients: "Maybe I have your attention now even if that means someone must die."

Earlier Thursday, the chief law enforcement officer of the U.S. Senate said a private lab confirmed the presence of ricin in a letter sent to one of its members.

Terrance Gainer said lab tests confirmed field testing that indicated the presence of the toxin. He says the ricin, which was found Tuesday at a suburban mail processing center, was not turned into a weapon. The FBI has not yet reported the results of its testing of the material.

MORE: Ricin poison 'very toxic,' experts say

STORY: 'I think he's insane,' mayoral hopeful on ricin suspect

Details were beginning to emerge Thursday on Curtis, who was arrested at his home in Corinth, Miss., on Wednesday.

Multiple online posts on various websites under the name Kevin Curtis appear to show a man who believed he had uncovered a conspiracy to sell human body parts on the black market and claimed "various parties within the government" were trying to ruin his reputation. The posts refer to the conspiracy he claimed to uncover when working at a local hospital from 1998 to 2000.

The author wrote the conspiracy that began when he "discovered a refrigerator full of dismembered body parts & organs wrapped in plastic in the morgue of the largest non-metropolitan healthcare organization in the United States of America."

Curtis wrote that he was trying to "expose various parties within the government, FBI, police departments" for what he believed was "a conspiracy to ruin my reputation in the community as well as an ongoing effort to break down the foundation I worked more than 20 years to build in the country music scene."

In one post, Curtis said he sent letters to Wicker and other politicians.

"I never heard a word from anyone. I even ran into Roger Wicker several different times while performing at special banquets and fundraisers in northeast, Mississippi but he seemed very nervous while speaking with me and would make a fast exit to the door when I engaged in conversation..."

He signed off: "This is Kevin Curtis & I approve this message."

Contributing: Mary Orndorff Troyan, Deirdre Shesgreen, Deborah Barfield Berry and Maureen Groppe of the Gannett Washington Bureau; Liz Szabo, Jim Michaels, Gregory Korte and Natalie DiBlasio of USA TODAY; The Associated Press

Peter Eisler, Kevin Johnson and Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY

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