Athens man pleads guilty to unlawful possession of ricin

Athens man pleads guilty to unlawful possession of ricin
Abel Keith Fulton (Source: Judicial record)

HENDERSON COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - A 19-year-old Athens, Texas, man has pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of ricin in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown and Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers today.

Abel Keith Fulton pleaded guilty on Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge John D. Love.

According to information presented in court, from August to September 2016, Fulton possessed ricin at his home in Athens, Texas.

Fulton's house was searched by FBI agents in September of 2016. The search was prompted after the homeowner told officials their son was attempting to make a hazardous chemical agent.

Homeowner Richard Fulton said in a statement that his teenage son had been attempting to make ricin out of castor beans, adding, "I don't condone what he did. It was wrong and foolish. I hope it's just the case of a curious kid doing a dumb thing."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, ricin invades the cells of a person's body and prevents those cells from making needed proteins, causing the cells to die. The CDC says that eventually, the condition could lead to death.

Under federal statutes, Fulton faces up to 10 years in federal prison at sentencing. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Coan and Trial Attorney Jerome Teresinski of the Department of Justice National Security Division.

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