For trying to extort a quarter of a million dollars from beleaguered celebrity chef Paula Deen back in July, 62-year-old New Yorker Thomas George Paculis was sentenced to two years in prison on Monday, September 16. His complete sentence also includes one year of supervised release and 40 hours of community service, with an additional court order for him to attend drug abuse counselling.
While battling the outrage over her use of the N-word, the former TV show host was contacted by Paculis saying he had "true and damning evidence" that would supposedly "bring hardship and financial ruin" to the former Food Network talent if these were released to the public. He was later arrested by federal authorities for extorting $250,000 from the restaurateur.
Paculis struck a plea deal with prosecutors last month to plead guilty to one of two counts of extortion he had been subsequently charged with, in exchange for dropping the remaining count. When asked why he tried to extort money from the already embattled Deen, Paculis said it was brought on by "some bad economic times."
Last month, after being dropped by key sponsors like Smithfield Foods, Target and Walmart, and practically losing the business empire that she had built over the years, Deen and her ex-employee Lisa Jackson, who brought the discrimination and sexual harassment charges against her, agreed to have the lawsuit dismissed.