New York – Authorities on Friday arrested a New York man charged with trying to extort money from embattled celebrity cook Paula Deen in exchange for not going to the news media with “true and damning statements” he said she made. FBI agents and local sheriff’s deputies arrested Thomas George Paculis, 62, of Newfield, N.Y., on Friday.
A criminal complaint filed Wednesday in federal court in Savannah, Ga., charges him with extortion. The complaint said Paculis was threatening to go to the media with statements made by Deen unless the former Food Network star gave him $250,000. The complaint does not specify what was in the statements Paculis claimed were made by Deen.
Deen’s business deals began falling apart last month after statements she made when she was questioned under oath in May became public. The questioning was part of a civil lawsuit filed last year by Lisa Jackson, a former manager of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House, which Deen co-owns with her brother, Bubba Hiers. Jackson says she was sexually harassed and worked in an environment rife with racial slurs and innuendo.
Interceptor missile misses test target
Los Angeles – The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency once again missed hitting its desired target during a flight test of an interceptor missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base, northwest of Santa Barbara, Calif.
The failure of the $214 million test Friday involved a ground-based defense system, designed by Boeing Co., to defend the U.S. from long-range ballistic missile attacks.
The Missile Defense Agency now has a testing record of eight hits out of 16 intercept attempts with the “hit-to-kill” warheads. The last successful intercept occurred in December 2008.
The Missile Defense Agency did not yet know the cause of test failure.
Coaster exceeds scream noise limit
Santa Clara, Calif. – A Northern California roller coaster appears to have been a little too much fun. The Gold Striker at Great America in Santa Clara had to be taken offline this week because riders were screaming too loudly.
The San Jose Mercury News reported that the shrieks were exceeding the decibel limit agreed upon in a settlement with Prudential Real Estate, which owns adjacent properties. So Great America had to cover a portion of the track in a sound-dampening tunnel.
The wooden roller coaster reopened on Wednesday after the work was completed.