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Mich. man jailed for assault after handshake makes three people sick

Friday, January 13, 2006

LANSING, Mich. -- A man has been jailed on assault charges after a prosecutor, police officer and courtroom bailiff became seriously ill after shaking hands with him.

During a Dec. 21 court appearance on a traffic charge, John Ridgeway pulled out a vial of an unknown liquid, rubbed his hands with the contents and insisted on shaking hands with the three people, authorities said.

All of them got sick within an hour, suffering from nausea, headaches, numbness and tingling that lasted about a day. Two sought treatment at a hospital.

The FBI was running tests on the substance to identify it.

Ridgeway, 41, said in a telephone interview from jail Thursday that the substance was olive oil. He questioned whether the three officials were sick at all, and charged that the allegations were fabricated.

"They've got a vendetta against me because I took a ticket to a jury trial," he said.

Ridgeway could get up to six years in prison if convicted.

"I have never seen the likes of this. Nobody else has, either," said prosecutor Keith Kushion. He was not the prosecutor who fell ill.

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