An attorney for Alexandria Sheriff Michael E. Norris has sent letters to several persons in Alexandria, including City Council member Donald C. Casey and two city policemen, asking them to retract allegations he says they have made against Norris.
The letter, sent last week by Norris' attorney Barry R. Poretz, requests that the retractions be made within 10 days. However, both Norris and Poretz declined yesterday to say what allegations they wanted retracted.
Norris has been at the center of a controversy about a 1984 police investigation into reports of drug use by Norris that was allegedly stopped prematurely by Public Safety Director Charles T. Strobel.
Norris and Poretz declined to say what action they would take if the request for retractions was not met. In addition to Casey, letters also were sent to The Alexandria Port Packet, which first published the allegations, and Alicia Mundy, a reporter for The Packet; former Alexandria police investigator Charles Cox and two city policemen, Joseph Morrash and Morton Ford, Poretz said.
Cox, Morrash and Ford have alleged that the drug investigation should have continued. A special grand jury is now reviewing the way the drug probe was handled.
"It is our view that you have imputed a crime to Sheriff Norris and that such allegations are either malicious or made with reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of such statements," the letter to Casey said. Poretz said he was referring to Casey's reports to the press.
Norris said he is "most concerned that I'm being called a criminal and I am not."
Norris, who has denied he has ever been involved with drugs, said he understood from his lawyer that the letters were "courtesies or preliminaries to libel suits, to give people the opportunity to start telling the truth." But he said he is "not so sure" he would sue the recipients of the letters if he does not get retractions.
Casey briefed the City Council in closed sessions in December on the allegations that the investigation had been halted before they were published in The Packet and has pushed hard for an investigation into the way the drug investigation was handled.
"It's an attempt to intimidate a witness -- me," Casey said yesterday, referring to the possibility he may be called to testify before the special grand jury.
Casey said he will turn over the letter, which he received Saturday, to the special grand jury. He also said he will respond to the letter by asking Norris and Poretz to "be specific" about the allegations they say he has made.
"The letter is being looked at and we need more specifics," said Joanne Alper, an Arlington attorney representing The Port Packet. "We do not believe there have been any allegations of wrongdoing against Norris" in the Packet, Alper said.
Mundy said she would have no comment on the letter and referred a reporter to Alper.
Neither Morrash, Cox, Ford nor their attorney, Mary Craig, could be reached for comment.