La Crescenta man who tried to buy ricin from undercover FBI agent sentenced to prison

A judge sentenced a La Crescenta man on Monday to 3 1/2 years in federal prison for trying to buy ricin that investigators believe he intended to use as poison for his wife.

Steve S. Kim, 41, pleaded guilty to violating a criminal statute called prohibition with respect to biological weapons in September 2019, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Kim attempted to procure ricin over a two-month period in late 2018 from an undercover FBI agent pretending to be an online seller, officials said.

While negotiating the sale, Kim stated that a 110-pound person would consume the deadly toxin in a drink, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

According to investigators, Kim was having “marital difficulties” with his wife, who weighed 110 pounds. His internet history also showed “searches for strategies to manage anger issues,” officials said.

Kim paid $350 in Bitcoin and had it delivered to his office through the U.S. Postal Service in November 2018, according to officials.

The FBI provided a package containing inert powder and arrested Kim once he took it home and accessed it, authorities said.

The “parties” disputed Kim’s alleged intentions in using the ricin, officials said, but “the act of attempting to obtain the deadly toxin constituted ‘incredibly dangerous conduct without regard to the safety of others.’”

Had Kim been successful in obtaining ricin, he could have seriously harmed many people who unknowingly came into contact with the hazardous package,” a sentencing memo said.

Ricin is a deadly substance naturally found in castor beans.

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