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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 14, 2019

Woman Sentenced to Prison for Possessing Ricin

NORFOLK, Va. – A South Carolina woman was sentenced today to 35 months in prison for the unregistered possession of ricin, a highly dangerous toxin.

According to court documents, Debbie Siers-Hill, 63, of Ladson, knowingly possessed the following items in a storage unit that she rented and controlled: Ricin, held in a container wrapped in towels and double wrapped in plastic bags; syringes, including one containing identifiable traces of ricin; numerous other liquid chemicals and powdered caffeine; latex gloves; packages of castor plant seeds; and three firearms, one of which had an obliterated serial number. In addition, two more castor seeds were found in Siers-Hill’s car, and agents also found castor seed hulls in the house where she lived. Ricin is an extremely dangerous toxin contained within the seed of the castor plant. As a “select agent”—along with such materials as the Ebola virus, anthrax, and the 1918 pandemic influenza strain—it is not available to the general public, and there is no known antidote to ricin poisoning.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and Martin Culbreth, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alan M. Salsbury and Andrew C. Bosse prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:18-cr-62.

Contact: 
Joshua Stueve Director of Communications joshua.stueve@usdoj.gov
Updated January 28, 2019