PORTSMOUTH, Va., Oct. 31 -- The former secretary of Mayor James W. Holley III and one of his supporters have been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury investigating a hate mail incident, it was reported today.
Karen Pestka, Holley's secretary for two years before leaving last November, and Richard Slepin, a vocal supporter of the mayor, will appear before the grand jury in U.S. District Court in Norfolk on Nov. 9, unidentified sources told The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star of Norfolk.
Holley, the sole suspect in an earlier investigation into the mail incident, has not been subpoenaed, Herman Benn, one of his attorneys said.
"If he has, he has not told us," Benn said. "I think he would have if he had gotten it."
For three months, the U.S. postal inspector in Norfolk has been investigating the obscene, racist and sometimes threatening mail sent anonymously last year to seven black leaders and a white newspaper editor who opposed the closing of a local high school. A black judge who was not involved in the controversy also received the mail.
Holley, who is black, submitted fingerprints and handwriting samples to postal officials during an Aug. 24 meeting.
The grand jury hearing is scheduled to begin five weeks before Portsmouth voters will decide Dec. 15 whether to remove Holley from office. The recall election was ordered by a Circuit Court judge after more than 9,000 voters signed petitions seeking Holley's ouster.
Robert Seidel Jr., chief of the criminal division of the U.S. attorney's office in Norfolk, said he could neither confirm nor deny that subpoenas had been issued.
Pestka declined to comment on the subpoena, but in a statement given to state investigators in April, she said that Holley asked her to address envelopes for people she later learned received hate mail. In her statement, Pestka also said Holley had her prepare the envelopes as though they came from different sources.
Slepin said he did not know why he had been summoned to appear before the grand jury.
Holley has consistently denied sending the mail.