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bioterrorism

James Everett Dutschke, the Mississippi man arrested in April on suspicions that he sent letters containing the poison ricin to President Obama and other officials, has been indicted on five federal charges, from sending threats in the mail to knowingly making and possessing "a biological agent... for use as a weapon."

Maximum punishments for the counts leveled against Dutschke, 41, range from five years to life in prison.

"Authorities, including the FBI, questioned a New Boston, Texas, man Thursday night in connection with an investigation of ricin-laced letters sent to government officials, including President Barack Obama," KSLA-TV in Shreveport, La., reports.

A letter mailed to President Obama that is similar in some way to two possibly ricin-laced letters sent to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was intercepted Thursday at a mail-handling facility, the Secret Service and other law enforcement authorities confirm.

Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary says in an email to NPR that:

FBI agents witnessed J. Everett Dutschke trying to get rid of items authorities say would implicate him with the mailing of ricin-laced letters to President Obama and other officials.

As we've reported, the FBI originally arrested Paul Kevin Curtis in the case, but Curtis told them he was being set up by Dutschke, his rival.

Federal agents who are investigating poison-laced letters that were sent to President Obama and others have arrested Everett Dutschke, of Tupelo, Miss. The Daily Journal of Tupelo reports that the arrest occurred around 1 a.m. Saturday.

In addition to the president, letters containing the poison ricin were sent to Sen. Roger Wicker and a Mississippi state judge.

Update at 11:55 a.m. ET. Charges Filed, Court Date Set

Update at 6:02 p.m. ET. Charges Dropped:

Federal prosecutors have dropped charges against a Mississippi man they accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Obama and two other public servants, according to a court order obtained by the AP.

"In a court order calling for the charges to be dismissed, prosecutors said the 'ongoing investigation has revealed new information' without providing any additional detail," Reuters reports.

Paul Kevin Curtis was released from custody earlier Tuesday.

Ryan Dillow / WUSF

USF and its Patel College of Global Sustainability have made water one of their priorities through research into such efforts as turning wastewater into a clean, usable product or the rapid detection of contaminants.

Now that work is getting the attention of the federal government, which in turn could lead to a new stream of revenue for the University.

This week's University Beat report on WUSF Public Media takes you along as Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Administrator of water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, tours laboratories at USF’s Tampa and Lakeland campuses to see the research firsthand.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

Work by USF researchers into what Nancy Stoner calls "real-world problems" -- like detecting contaminated water supplies and turning wastewater into useable clean water and energy -- brought the Environmental Protection Agency official to the University Wednesday.

Stoner, the EPA's Acting Assistant Administrator for Water, visited the Patel College of Global Sustainability and a trio of labs at the Tampa and Lakeland campuses.