Officials from the FBI arrested a man in NYC Friday morning after he allegedly tried to extort $250,000 from embattled celebrity chef Paula Deen.
He threatened to release “true and damning” statements made by Deen unless she paid up, according to a federal criminal complaint filed in Georgia.
Deen’s attorney went immediately to the FBI after she received both an email and follow up phone call from a man named Thomas Paculis.
The complaint claims Paculis threatened to go public with information he claimed with bring hardship and financial ruin to Paula Deen.
According to the FBI, Paculis’ email to Paula‘s attorney read:
“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, the plaintiff suing Deen for discrimination] will be won on it’s merit alone.”
The email went on to say there is a price for such information.
The revelation that Deen had used the n-word, which came from a leaked deposition she gave as part of Jackson’s lawsuit, came to light just days before.
Paculis was taken into custody and will appear in court July 16.
As for the lawsuit, Deen wants it dismissed on grounds that Jackson’s claims are bogus – along with her stated reasons for being discriminated against.
It is not clear how Deen’s racial slur admission ever went public.