Paula Deen's Extortionist Sentenced to 2 Years in Jail

Thomas Paculis was accused of demanding $250,000 in order to keep his mouth shut about past Paula Deen statements

By Josh Grossberg
|  Wednesday, Sep 18, 2013  |  Updated 4:40 AM PDT
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Paula Deen's Extortionist Sentenced to 2 Years in Jail

Getty Images for Extra

A man has been sentenced to two years in prison for trying to extort former Food Network southern cooking maven Paula Deen.

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It looks like somebody's gonna be on kitchen detail and it's not Paula Deen.

A man who pleaded guilty to trying to blackmail the ex-Food Network star at the height of the uproar over her utterance of the N-word has been sentenced to two years in a Georgia prison.

Thomas Paculis copped to one count of extortion after demanding $250,000 from the bubbly 66-year-old Deen in exchange for not revealing damaging statements she had made in the past.

As the Savannah Morning News reports, in addition to jail time, U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. gave the 62-year-old one year of supervised release and 40 hours of community service.

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He's lucky he didn't get more.

Once news surfaced about the Queen of Southern Cuisine dropping the N-bomb, Paculis reached out to Deen's attorney, Gary Hodges, and threatened to release some allegedly damning information to the media that the Savannah businessman said would "sink her ship before it left the dock."

After the legal eagle negotiated him down to $200,000, he was taken into custody in New York City by federal agencys and charged with two counts of using interstate communications to try to extort money.

But because Paculis agreed to a plea deal, Assistant U.S. attorney Joseph Newman decided to drop the additional count against him. Explaining why he made the threats, Paculis cited "bad ecomonic times" as the reason.

NEWS: Everything we know about Paula Deen's career-threatening N-word controversy

In any case, after a slew of sponsors cut her loose after the embattled celebrity chef was found to have admitted the racist term in a deposition as part of a $1.2 million lawsuit filed by a former employee, Deen apologized for her behavior in June.

And in a sign that perhaps she'll survive the scandal, the famed cook was greeted with a 10-minute standing ovation at the Metro Cooking &Entertainment show in Houston on Saturday.

As for the legal action that spurred the controversy, a federal judge signed off on a deal to dismiss the discrimination lawsuit against her.

PHOTOS: Paula Deen throughout the years

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