Embattled celebrity chef Paula Deen can now add being the target of an alleged extortion attempt to an already full plate of legal drama.
FBI officials announced Friday that they arrested Thomas Paculis, 62, in Newfield, N.Y., in connection with an extortion scheme targeting Deen.
Paculis, who previously resided in Savannah and Augusta in Deen's home state of Georgia, has been charged with attempting to extort Deen by requesting $250,000 in compensation in return for not releasing "true and damning" statements to the media made by Deen, according to a federal criminal complaint filed on June 24.
Deen's lawyer contacted the FBI's Atlanta office after Paculis sent an email and followed up with a phone call requesting the money, according to the complaint. Paculis indicated that the information he threatened to release would bring hardship and financial ruin to Deen, according to FBI Special Agent Mark F. Giuliano.