Latest Woe for Paula Deen: Extortion

Man arrested, wanted $250K not to release 'damning' information

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Jul 5, 2013 3:54 PM CDT

(Newser) – We can safely assume Paula Deen is not having a very nice holiday weekend. The latest: Authorities today arrested a New York man charged with trying to extort money from her, in exchange for not going to the media with "true and damning statements" he said she made. According to a criminal complaint filed in Georgia, 62-year-old Thomas George Paculis was threatening to go to the media with statements made by Deen unless the former Food Network star gave him $250,000. The complaint does not specify what was in the statements Paculis claimed were made by Deen.

Paculis allegedly wrote an email to Deen's lawyer, Greg Hodges, on June 24, several days after Deen's n-word scandal broke. The text of the email is transcribed in the complaint: "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..." The FBI instructed Hodges to reply to the email, and Paculis provided several examples of information that he believed "would damage your client in so many ways that it would sink your ship before it left the dock."

In this publicity image released by NBC, celebrity chef Paula Deen appears on NBC News' Today show, Wednesday, June 26, 2013 in New York.
In this publicity image released by NBC, celebrity chef Paula Deen appears on NBC News' "Today" show, Wednesday, June 26, 2013 in New York.   (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer)
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