Sen. Roger Wicker has not only met the Mississippi man accused of sending a suspicious letter to his office in Washington, D.C., but he once hired the suspect for a short stint.
The Mississippi Republican lawmaker told reporters Thursday that he had met Paul Kevin Curtis—a Tupelo, Miss., man arrested for sending a letter that initially tested positive for the poison ricin—when he hired Curtis to perform as an Elvis impersonator at a party.
“I have indeed met him,” Wicker said. “He was very entertaining.”
Authorities intercepted a letter addressed to Wicker that was red-flagged at remote U.S. Post Office location in Landover, Md., sources told NBC News. Initial tests showed the letter tested positive for risin, a biotoxin derived from the castor bean plant.
A separate letter, addressed to President Obama, was caught by the Secret Service at an off-site mail screening facility not located near the White House. Law enforcement officials said there were “great consistencies” between the letters addressed to both the president and Sen. Wicker, but investigators say they have yet to determine whether the letters were sent by the same person.
If convicted, Curtis faces a maximum possible penalty of 15 years in prison, $500,000 in fines and three years of supervised release. According to the FBI, both letters were postmarked April 8, 2013 out of Memphis, Tenn., and were signed “I am KC and I approve this message.”
Also included in both letters, NBC News reports, is the identical phrase “to see a wrong and not to expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance.”
FBI officials tell NBC News they do not believe the incidents were related to the bombing at the Boston Marathon Monday. But the Capitol was on high alert on Wednesday, with a wave of suspicious letters and packages reported found in two Senate buildings. Capitol Police investigated a suspicious package sent to Sen. Richard Shelby’s office in Washington, D.C. The atrium of the one Senate building was cleared for a time, but Shelby’s staff had not been evacuated.