Paula Deen's foundering empire is at least safe from this guy.
A man charged with attempting to extort $250,000 from the scandal-plagued culinary star has reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors and is due in court this Friday to enter a new plea after originally opting for not guilty, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Savannah, Ga.
Thomas George Paculis, 62, of New York had been accused of contacting Deen's attorney via email and threatening to reveal more supposedly damaging statements that she had made in the past.
According to prosecutors, Paculis reached out after it was revealed that she had admitted in a legal deposition to past use of the N-word, an admission that has since cost the bubbly chef her spot on Food Network's lineup and millions of dollars in endorsements.
Prosecutors said that Deen's lawyer, Gary Hodges, negotiated the demanded amount down to $200,000 but Paculis told him that he had no means of getting from New York to Georgia and didn't know how he would pick up the money. Federal agents solved the first half of that dilemma, arresting him in the Big Apple on July 5 and bringing him down to the Peach State.
No details about the terms of the plea deal were immediately made public.
Charged with two counts of using interstate communications to try to extort money, Paculis was facing the possibility of two years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
He has been free on a $10,000 bond provided that he steered clear of Deen and her businesses.