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Paula Deen's blackmailer sentenced to two years in prison

UPI News Service, 09/17/2013 

Thomas Paculis has been sentenced to two years in a Georgia prison for attempting to blackmail celebrity chef Paula Deen, court records show.

Paculis contacted Deen's attorney, claiming he would release "true and damning" information about Deen's use of the N-word if the TV personality didn't pay him $250,000, prosecutors said.

The FBI arrested Paculis and he was charged with two counts of extortion. He struck a deal with prosecutors last month, agreeing to plead guilty to one count of extortion if prosecutors dropped the remaining charge.

TMZ said Paculis was sentenced Monday to two years behind bars, plus one year of supervised release and 40 hours community service.

Deen, 66, admitted earlier this year in a deposition for a lawsuit she used the racial slur, but later clarified it had been years ago and in reference to an African-American man who robbed her at gunpoint.

The confession sparked a media firestorm and, although Deen apologized for her behavior and insisted she is not a racist, she was fired by the Food Network and lost numerous product endorsement deals.

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