Wednesday, September 27, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Wednesday, September 27, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Mississippian Says Ricin Arrest Ruined His Life

The Mississippi man once accused of trying to kill President Barack Obama and other elected officials with the poison ricin claims in court that the Department of Justice and FBI destroyed his life.

JACKSON, Miss. (CN) – The Mississippi man once accused of trying to kill President Barack Obama and other elected officials with the poison ricin claims in court that the Department of Justice and FBI destroyed his life.

Paul Kevin Curtis, a former Elvis impersonator from Corinth, Miss., claims federal prosecutors had evidence pointing to James Everett Dutschke, who is now serving a 25-year sentence for the crime, but still insisted he was guilty and needlessly kept him in custody.

In a civil rights lawsuit filed Tuesday in Mississippi federal court, Curtis says his life changed forever when FBI, DOJ and Homeland Security officials demanded he confess to trying to kill the president, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and Mississippi Judge Sadie Holland with ricin-laced mailings in April 2013.

The Dec. 13 lawsuit details the days following what Curtis describes as an unexpected arrest by a SWAT team for the poisonous plot he insisted he had nothing to do with.

Curtis says that after a SWAT team surprised him at his mailbox with automatic weapons drawn on April 17, 2013, he was cuffed and shackled and driven in a black unmarked SUV about 90 miles to Oxford, Miss.

“Kevin was in a state of shock,” the lawsuit says. “Once the convoy stopped, Kevin was taken inside a building and handcuffed to a chair. Numerous individuals interrogated him, demanding that he admit his guilt in a presidential assassination plot.”

Curtis says at some point he made “the now infamous statement ‘I don’t even eat rice’ in response to their accusations and allegations about ricin.”

During interrogations, while handcuffed to a chair, Curtis was told by federal agents that he would spent the rest of his life in prison, berated, harassed and lied to, according to the complaint.

“At some point a federal agent told Kevin there was a young woman in the hospital clinging to life and that she would die if Kevin did not tell him what was in the poison,” his 15-page lawsuit claims. “This, of course, was just an outright lie.”

By the time Curtis was charged on April 19, 2013, “he had been taken from his quiet life and thrust into the spotlight as the man who tried to kill the president, a United States senator and a local judge,” he claims.

Curtis says in his lawsuit that government officials made the “gargantuan leap of logic and reality” in believing he was guilty all based on Facebook postings where he used phrases similar to those found in the ricin-laced letter mailed to Sen. Wicker’s office.

“Based on those speculations and accusations, the United States government, by and through the full force of its law enforcement agencies, destroyed the life of Kevin Curtis,” the complaint states.

According to the lawsuit, government searches of his vehicle, home and computers came up with no evidence of ricin preparation or manufacturing.

Curtis was released four days after his arrest when the investigation led to the now-convicted Dutschke, who was reportedly a political rival of Curtis’.

Curtis says he returned to a different word; his home was destroyed and ransacked, he was placed on the “no fly” list, and “suddenly cast into the national and global media as a terrorist.”

“His music career came to a screeching halt and he was unable to book events. The government has refused over and over to remove the language ‘without prejudice’ from the order of dismissal. Kevin continues to suffer from extreme emotional distress caused by his false arrest and wrongful incarceration,” the lawsuit says.

Curtis seeks compensatory and punitive damages for civil rights violations, including unlawful search and seizure, wrongful and false prosecution, false arrest and wrongful incarceration. He is represented by Tupelo attorney James D. Moore.

A spokesperson for the DOJ office in Northern Mississippi could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Follow @@eidelagarza
Categories / Civil Rights, Regional

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.