Entries in Extortion (3)


NY Man Arrested in Paula Deen Extortion Plot

Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC(NEW YORK) -- A New York man who allegedly tried to extort a $250,000 from former Food Network star Paula Deen was arrested today by federal authorities.

Thomas George Paculis, 62, of Newfield, N.Y., was arrested this morning on an extortion charges, according to a news release from the FBI.

Paculis threatened to disclose "true and damning" statements made by Deen to the media unless the celebrity chef paid him $250,000, according to a federal complaint.

The FBI said it was notified by Deen's attorney after an email and follow-up phone call were sent to her office threatening to expose information that would "bring hardship and financial ruin" to Deen if it was released.

Paculis is a former resident of Georgia, where Deen lives and has a restaurant.

A call to Deen's representative was not immediately returned.

Paculis did not answer a call to a cell phone number believed to be connected to him.

Paculis was scheduled to appear in federal court in Savannah, Ga., on July 16, according to the FBI.

Deen has faced criticism in the past few weeks after a lawsuit deposition in which the celebrity chef admitted to using racial slurs.

The self-proclaimed queen of southern cooking and her brother are being sued for racial and sexual discrimination by Lisa Jackson, who worked as a manager of their Savannah, Ga., restaurant. During a deposition in May, Jackson's lawyer asked Deen whether she'd ever used the n-word. She said she had.

Deen became one of the Food Network's top stars after she landed her first show, Paula's Home Cooking, in 2002.

On June 21, The Food Network announced it would not renew Deen's contract at the end of the month.

Since then, a slew of businesses have severed ties with Deen, including Target and Walmart, along with her book publisher, Ballantine.

In a video apology last month, Deen asked for forgiveness.

"I want to learn and grow from this," she said. "Inappropriate and hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable.

"I've made plenty of mistakes along the way," she added, "but I beg you, my children, my team, my fans, my partners, I beg for your forgiveness. Please forgive me for the mistakes that I have made."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


L.A. Investigator Sought Extortion Charges Against Mel Gibson’s Ex-Girlfriend

Michael Kovac/FilmMagic(LOS ANGELES) -- The District Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles decided not to file extortion charges against Mel Gibson's ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, despite objections from a police detective who felt her attorneys’ demands for 20 million dollars in exchange for not revealing damaging photos and audio tapes warranted prosecution, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The newspaper says L.A. Sheriff’s Detective Rodney Wagner sent a letter to the prosecutor who declined to press charges against Grigorieva, saying an investigation turned up evidence of “implied threats" against Gibson by his ex and her lawyers.  Wagner said he found support for three separate extortion charges in Grigorieva’s emails to the actor and in a March 2010 meeting with her attorneys.  The report says the actor had agreed to a $15 million settlement with his ex, but she backed out and the now-infamous audio tapes of Gibson’s rants and photos of her with injuries allegedly caused by him quickly surfaced.

Grigorieva’s lead attorney, Eric George, is the son of California’s former chief justice and a campaign fundraiser for L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley, but a spokesperson for the DA’s office said Cooley had no role in his office’s determination not to bring charges against Grigorieva and her lawyers.

In a plea deal, Gibson last week pleaded no contest to misdemeanor spousal battery in connection with an alleged attack on Grigorieva last year. The actor was placed on three years’ probation, ordered to undergo one year of domestic violence counseling and perform 16 hours of community service.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Mel Gibson Extortion Case Turned Over to Prosecutors

Photo Courtesy - Michael Kovac/ FilmMagic(LOS ANGELES) -- Los Angeles prosecutors have their hands full with a pair of cases involving Mel Gibson.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department detectives turned over to prosecutors their findings in its investigation into whether Gibson's ex-girlfriend tried to extort him, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Gibson has claimed that Oksana Grigorieva, the mother of their one-year-old daughter Lucia, attempted to extort him.   

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office has been considering whether to pursue domestic violence charges against Gibson in connection with an alleged fight the Oscar-winner had with Grigorieva at his Malibu, California home last year.  Gibson and Grigorieva have been embroiled in a bitter custody dispute over their child since.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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