Federal authorities have arrested a New York man they say was trying to extort money from embattled celebrity cook Paula Deen.
The FBI said in a statement that Thomas George Paculis of Newfield, N.Y., was arrested Friday. A criminal complaint filed Wednesday in federal court in Savannah, Ga., charges him with extortion.
The complaint says Paculis was threatening to go to the media with statements made by Deen unless she gave him $250,000.
Special Agent Steve Emmett with the FBI in Atlanta says Paculis had an initial court appearance and was released on bond.
Chef splits with agent
Paula Deen is ending her business relationship with a longtime agent after her admission that she used racial slurs in the past resulted in the loss of major pieces of her media and merchandising empire.
The celebrity chefs spokeswoman, Elana Weiss, said in a statement Thursday that Deen has separated from New York agent Barry Weiner. Weiss said Deen and her family in Savannah thank him for the tireless effort and dedication over the many years.
– Associated Press