Paula Deen

Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Paula Deen caught a break.

A man charged with attempting to extort $200,000 from the former Food Network star pleaded guilty to those charges Friday in federal court. 

New York resident Thomas George Paculis, 62, told a U.S. District Court judge he had made a "bad judgment" call and would "take responsibility" for his actions, according to the Huffington Post.

In the wake of the chef's N-word scandal, Paculis contacted Deen's attorney via email and threatened to reveal more damaging statements she had made in the past, according to prosecutors. 

Paculis originally demanded $250,000 to keep his mouth shut, but Deen's attorney, Gary Hodges, negotiated him down to $200,000. 

Paula Deen

Seth Browarnik/

Federal agents later arrested Paculis in New York City on July 5. Then, he was transported to Georgia and charged with two counts of using interstate communications to try to extort money.

Paculis faces up to two years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine after pleading guilty to one of those counts. Prosecutors dropped the second count in exchange for the plea, according to the site. 

NEWS: Riley Cooper and more celebs caught up in racial scandals

A sentencing date hasn't been set.

In the meantime, Paculis will remain free on $10,000 bond and will be allowed to return to New York with electronic monitoring. 

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share