Restauranteur Thomas George Paculis, 62, was arrested by the FBI on Friday morning for allegedly attempting to extort $250,000 from disgraced chef and outed racist Paula Deen, reports CBS News.
As previously reported by NewsOne, Deen was fired by ‘The Food Network’ after admitting to using the racial slur “ni**er” and plantation fantasies about having Black men dress in white shorts and bow-ties to serve food at a wedding reception.
Lisa Jackson, a former general manager of Bubba’s Oyster and Seafood House in Savannah, Georgia, alleged in a lawsuit that she experienced emotional distress after being racially and sexually harassed in the workplace.
The restaurant is co-owned by Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers.
Paculis wrote an email to Deen’s lawyer, Greg Hodges, on June 24, several days after Deen’s deposition statements became public.
The email read in part: “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 Jackson will be won on it’s merit alone…there is a price for such information…”
Paculis urged Hodges to contact him after providing several examples of what he believed to be incriminating evidence that “would damage your client in so many ways that it would sink your ship before it left the dock,” the complaint says.
Paculis also contacted Jackson’s lawyer, Matt Billips, on July 1, and attempted to draw him into his scheme:
“Now the burning question is…do you want in…I still have the chance to bring this together, but time is slowly running out…I have them hooked, but reeling this sucker in is gonna be hard without help…give me a call…” Hodges writes in an email Billips.
Deen was shown pictures of the man and claims to not know him.
As previously reported by NewsOne, Deen has also been dropped by Wal-Mart, Target, Diabetes drug maker Novo Nordisk, Caesars Entertainment and Smithfield Foods.
The Southern comfort food maven has not been without some unlikely supporters and unexpected sympathizers and rationalizers. They include Rev. Al Sharpton, who said she shouldn’t be judged on using a racial slur in her past, Dr. Boyce Watkins, who in an appearance on CNN’s AC360 argued that Deen’s age and environment should be taken into account when judging her; Roland Martin, who argued that Black people should be just as upset when other Black people use the n-word as racist White people; and Bill Maher, who defended Deen‘s use of the word “ni**er” by declaring it freedom of speech on par with Hip-Hop music.
Rev. Jesse Jackson joined in and said that Deen shouldn’t be a “sacrificial lamb.”
In an appearance on the ‘Today Show,’ Deen shed (crocodile) tears and begged anyone who had never said something which they regret, “pick up that stone and hit me so hard that it kills me.”