‘Top Chef’ Extortion Trial Begins In Boston, Host Padma Lakshmi To Testify
Four Teamsters members in Boston are being charged with attempting to extort jobs from Top Chef producers.
TOP CHEF EXTORTON TRIAL BEGINS<h2?
The trial began this week in Boston, in which Robert Cafarelli, John Fidler, Daniel Remond, and Michael Ross are being accused of spitting threats and homophobic and racist remarks at crew members of the Bravo show. Prosecutors are also claiming that the four physically threatened show host Padma Lakshmi, by Fidler sticking his arm into her van and saying, “I’ll smash your pretty little face.”
Lakshmi will testify in court when her turn comes. The Teamsters lawyers, however, are insisting that the four were simply trying to get jobs and picket. “The defendants went to Milton to get jobs for their out-of-work brothers and sisters in the union,” said Kevin Barron, who represents Ross, during opening statements. “That’s what they’re there for. This is real work we’re talking about… “The union doesn’t have to take no for an answer,” the lawyer said. “Unions have a right, people have a right to organize and demand things from employers. There is no extortion, no crime, no conspiracy, just five middle-aged truck drivers doing a picket.”
Witness Erica Ross spoke about what she saw of the demonstrators. “If you were a woman, they called you a c–t, and they called everyone scabs… I had never witnessed anything like that before,” she said, describing the confrontation, including one of the Teamsters calling a female crew member in a headscarf a “towel head.” “I was concerned that our crew couldn’t keep their cool.” Reports say that incidents like this occurred every day for their two weeks of filming.
Originally five men were charged with extortion, with the last, Mark Harrington, pleading guilty and being sentenced to six months of home confinement and nearly $35,000 in fines.