Connect to share and comment

FBI arrest man in Paula Deen extortion plot

A New York man has been charged with trying to extort $250,000 from embattled TV chef Paula Deen.

Paula deenEnlarge
Cooking show host Paula Deen at FOX Studios on December 6, 2012 in New York City. (Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

Paula Deen is not having a good month.

The embattled TV chef has been dropped from the Food Network and the majority of her sponsors after she admitted in a taped deposition to having used racist language.

Now it turns out Deen has also been the victim of extortion after a New York man tried to get her to pay him $250,000 to keep him quiet about "true and damning" statements she allegedly made, according to a federal criminal complaint filed on June 24.

The FBI arrested Thomas Paculis, 62, in Newfield, NY on Friday in connection with the extortion scheme.

A criminal complaint filed Wednesday in federal court in Savannah, Ga., charges him with extortion.

Paculis used to live in Savannah and Augusta in Deen's home state of Georgia, reports NBC's Today.

According to the Associated Press, Paculis wrote an email to Deen's lawyer, Greg Hodges, on June 24, just as Deen's admission of using the N-word went public.

"I am about to go public with statements refuting your clients statements about using the 'N' word in her business practices at Lady and Son's... The statements are true and damning enough that the case for Jackson will be won on it's merit alone..," Paculis wrote in the email to Hodges.

Paculis urges Deen's lawyer to contact him and says "there is a price for such information...", the complaint says.

FBI Special Agent Mark F. Giuliano said that Paculis indicated that the information he threatened to give to the media would bring hardship and financial ruin to Deen.

More from GlobalPost: Paula Deen ends business relationship with agent after racial slur devastates empire

Deen's business empire began to crumble last month after a taped deposition  was made public. In the deposition, Deen admits to having used the N-word in the past and wanting to plan a "true Southern plantation-style wedding" with an all-black wait staff.

Deen was being sued by her former restaurant manager Lisa Jackson who alleges there was a culture of racist and sexist language at the restaurant run by Deen's brother Earl "Bubba" Hiers.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130705/fbi-arrest-man-paula-deen-extortion-plot