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April 18, 2013

Miss. man charged with threatening Obama, others

CORINTH, Miss. —  A Mississippi man accused of mailing letters with suspected ricin to national leaders 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.

Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, is charged with threatening President Barack Obama and others, according to a Thursday news release from the U.S. Department of Justice. He is scheduled to appear in federal court on the two charges later Thursday, and if convicted 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."

Curtis was arrested Wednesday at his home in Corinth, near the Tennessee state line. He was being held in the Lafayette County jail in Oxford, Miss.

Curtis had been living in Corinth, a city of about 14,000 in extreme northeastern Mississippi, since December, but local police had not had any contact with him prior to his arrest, Corinth Police Department Capt. Ralph Dance told The Associated Press on Thursday. Dance said the department aided the FBI during the arrest and that Curtis did not resist being taken into custody. Since Curtis arrived in the town, he had been living in "government housing," Dance said. He did not elaborate.

Police maintained a perimeter Thursday around Curtis' home, and federal investigators were expected to search the house later in the morning, said local officers on the scene who declined to be identified. Four men who appeared to be investigators were in the neighborhood to speak to neighbors. There didn't appear to be any hazardous-material crews, and no neighbors were evacuated.

The material discovered in a letter to Wicker has been confirmed through field testing and laboratory testing to contain ricin, said Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer. The FBI has not yet reported the results of its own testing of materials sent to Wicker and to President Barack Obama.

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