Paula Deen Extortion Suspect Pleads Not Guilty - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Paula Deen Extortion Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

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SAVANNAH, GA -

UPDATE:

The man accused of trying to extort money from Paula Deen pleaded not guilty in Federal Court this morning. Thomas Paculis, who lives in New York, has been indicted on two counts of using interstate communications with the intent to extort money.

According to the federal criminal complaint, filed in the Southern District of Georgia, on June 24, 2013, the FBI Atlanta's Savannah Resident Agency was notified through the attorney representing Savannah business owner and public figure Paula Deen of the receipt by their office of an email and follow up telephone call showing that Thomas Paculis was attempting to extort Deen by requesting $250,000 in return for not disclosing "true and damning" statements made by Deen to the media. Paculis used to live in Savannah and Augusta and indicated that his information would bring hardship and financial ruin to Deen.

Paculis will remain free on an unsecured $10,000 bond with certain conditions. He is required to report to a probation officer. No contact is allowed with the alleged victim or her businesses. He must not possess any firearms or dangerous weapons. His travel is restricted to the northern district of New York and this area for the purpose of court appearances. Judge G. Robert Smith also ordered the defendant to refrain from the use of drugs and excessive use of alcohol. The Judge indicated there was some history of alcohol abuse.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Thomas Paculis, who's accused of extorting money from Paula Deen's lawyers for withholding what he called damning information, pleaded not guilty in front of a Federal Judge on Tuesday.

  Paculis,62, was taken into custody in Newfield, New York. According to documents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Paculis attempted to obtain 250,000 in return for not disclosing "true and damning" statements made by Deen to the media.

  Paculis indicated that his information would bring hardship and financial ruin to Deen and help the lawsuit complainant Lisa Jackson, who's suing Paula Deen Enterprises for sexual and racial discrimination.

  We'll continue to follow this story and have much more beginning on News 3 On Your Side at 5pm.

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