Special Agent in Charge Mark F. Giuliano, FBI Atlanta, in conjunction with FBI Albany Special Agent in Charge Andrew Vale, announces the following arrest today at Newfield, New York in connection with an extortion scheme targeting Paula Deen, a public figure and Savannah, Georgia based business owner.
Thomas George Paculis, age 62, currently a resident of Newfield, New York, and formerly a resident of the Savannah and Augusta, Georgia areas, was arrested without incident this morning by Ithaca, New York based FBI agents along with deputies from the Tompkins County Sheriff' Office in Newfield, New York.
The arrest stems from a federal criminal complaint filed by FBI Atlanta's Savannah Resident Agency charging him with violation of Title 18 USC Section 875 (d), extortion.
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 compensation in return for not disclosing to the media "true and damning" statements made by Deen. Paculis indicated that his information would bring hardship and financial ruin to Deen.
Court documents show Paculis contacted Deen's attorney and the lawyer for Lisa Jackson, the plaintiff in the civil suit against Deen.
Subsequent to his arrest, Paculis was transported to the Onondaga County Jail, New York and detained pending his initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge later in the day. Paculis is currently scheduled to appear in front of a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Savannah, Georgia on July 16, 2013 at 9:00 a.m.
The public should be reminded that the above are merely allegations and that all persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
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