Paula Deen Extorted: New York Man Arrested for Demanding $250,000 From Celebrity Chef

Jul 09, 2013 04:29 PM EDT | By Dina Exil

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Paula Deen
Paula Deen announced plans to open a new restaurant in Tennessee. (Photo : Food Network)

A New York resident was arrested and charged with extorting money from celebrity chef Paula Deen in exchange for not releasing information on statements she allegedly made. 

Thomas George Paculis allegedly asked Deen's attorney for $250,000 to keep "true and damning" information from the media. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and local sheriff duties arrested Paculis, 62, in Newfield, N.Y., Friday morning. 

According to Reuters, Paculis approached Lisa Jackson, former manager to the Deen's restaurants Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House," claiming to have information that was "true and damning enough that the case for Jackson will be won on its merit alone." 

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Paculis allegedly sent an email to George Hodges, Deen's attorney, on June 24, several days after Deen's statements were made public. 

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

Paculis mentioned his price for information and asked Hodge to contact him. 

Hodge contacted the FBI, which instructed Hodge to respond to Paculis and negotiation a reduction in payment from $250,000 to $200,000. The two exchanged several emails and phone calls, Reuters reported. 

Deen is being sued along with her brother, Bubba Hiers, by Jackson.The lawsuit alleges sexual harassment and a work environment rife with racial slurs.

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