Thomas George Paculis Arrested After Allegedly Trying To Extort Paula Deen
Thomas George Paculis was arrested and charged with extortion following an alleged persistent attempt to be paid off by Paula Deen through her lawyer, alleging knowledge of Deen’s past racially offensive actions.
Paculis claimed that he would go public with “true and damning statements” made by the troubled celebrity cook if she didn’t pay him $250,000, reported the New York Daily News. In an email written to Deen’s lawyer Greg Hodges last month, Paculis wrote, “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 [Lisa] Jackson will be won on it's merit alone..."
When Hodges reported the contact to the FBI, they suggested he continue the dialogue. In the lengthy email exchange, Paculis allegedly continued to make threats and demands for payment in return for his silence, requested that there be no paper trail, and claimed to not have a car and was house sitting in New York.
Thomas George Paculis' mugshot
On Wednesday, a criminal complaint was filed against the Newfield, N.Y., native. FBI agents arrested Paculis for extortion on Friday. He made his first court appearance and was released on bond later that same day. He will next appear in federal court in Savannah on July 16.
Deen has been in a public relations crisis since testimony she gave during a discrimination lawsuit last month revealed she’s used the N-word in the past. The aftermath of the admission has seen Deen lose a number of her partners, including Smithfield Farms, Walmart, Target and Ballantine Books. The Food Network also dropped the southern comfort cook.
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