Paula Deen Extortionist Pleads Not Guilty

Posted: Updated:
PAULA DEEN DIABETES
Getty

SAVANNAH, Ga. — A New York man pleaded not guilty in federal court Tuesday to charges of trying to extort embattled celebrity cook Paula Deen.

Court documents show Thomas George Paculis of Newfield, N.Y., appeared in Chatham County Superior Court to enter his not guilty plea.

An indictment filed July 10 in U.S. District Court in Savannah charges Paculis with trying to extort $200,000 from Deen in exchange for keeping quiet about allegedly damaging remarks she had made in the past. Details on what Deen's alleged remarks were, and the relationship between Paculis and Deen, were unclear.

A complaint said Paculis initially tried extorting $250,000 from Deen but eventually lowered the amount after a discussion via email with one of Deen's attorneys, Greg Hodges.

Hodges and Paculis eventually spoke by phone. Paculis said he didn't want to leave a paper trail and at the direction of the FBI, Hodges negotiated the amount to $200,000. Paculis told Hodges he was house sitting in New York, didn't have a car and didn't know how he was going to collect the money, the complaint says.

Federal agents arrested the man in early July.

A message left with Paculis' court-appointed attorney on Tuesday afternoon wasn't returned.

The attempted extortion case took form after Deen's culinary empire began crumbling in response to her acknowledgement in a deposition that she had used racial slurs in the past.

The deposition was part of a civil lawsuit filed in 2012 by Lisa Jackson, a former manager of Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House, which Deen co-owns with her brother, Bubba Hiers. Jackson alleged that she was sexually harassed and worked in an environment rife with racial slurs and innuendo.

Also on The Huffington Post

Close
Paula Deen Racism Scandal Timeline
of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide

Suggest a correction

Around the Web

Man in Paula Deen's alleged extortion plot pleads not guilty

Paula Deen's alleged extortionist goes to court, pleads not guilty

Newfield man in Paula Deen extortion case appears in Georgia court

Paula Deen Alleged Extortionist Pleads Not Guilty

NY man pleads not guilty in Deen extortion plot

Man pleads not guilty in Paula Deen extortion plot

Paula Deen Extortion Suspect Pleads Not Guilty - WSAV: News, Weather, and ...

Paula Deen extortion case sees accused New York man pleading not guilty

Paula Deen extortion suspect pleads not guilty

New York Man Arrested in Alleged Paula Deen Extortion Plot