NY man pleads not guilty in Deen extortion plot

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Celebrity Chef Paula Deen (AP Photo)

Celebrity Chef Paula Deen (AP Photo)

L.A.'s Afternoon News: Maggie McKay and Michael Shappee
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A New York man has pleaded not guilty to charges he tried to extort embattled celebrity cook Paula Deen.

Federal court documents show Thomas George Paculis of Newfield, N.Y., appeared in Chatham County Superior Court on Tuesday morning to enter his not guilty plea.

An indictment filed July 10 in U.S. District Court in Savannah charges Paculis with trying to extort Deen of $200,000 in exchange for keeping quiet about allegedly damaging remarks Deen has made in the past. Details on what Deen’s alleged remarks were, and the relationship between Paculis and Deen, is unclear.

A call to Paculis’ court-appointed attorney wasn’t answered.

The case took form after Deen’s culinary empire began crumbing in response to her acknowledging during a deposition that she used racial slurs in the past.

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