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Man accused of trying to extort celebrity faces federal charges

Houston residents know Paula Deen for her delicious recipes. Recently, she has been in the news after a scandal involving racist remarks. Now, the former Food Network star is in the news once again. A man is facing federal charges that are connected to the celebrity.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has made a statement announcing the arrest of a New York man who is accused of trying to extort Paula Deen. The man allegedly told Ms. Deen that he would go public with "damning" statements made by the celebrity chef, unless he was paid $250,000. Criminal charges of extortion have been filed in Savannah, Georgia federal court.

Extortion is very specific type of theft crime. It involves an individual who gains access to the property of another through intimidation, threat to one's reputation or even violence. Extortion differs from robbery or theft in that there is typically no immediate danger to the individual who is claiming to having been extorted.

Blackmail is subcategory of extortion. Most blackmailing cases involve an individual threatening to expose embarrassing details about an individual or their family for financial gain. Experienced federal criminal defense attorneys can fight charges such as blackmail or extortion by providing character witnesses or showing that there was no actual threat made. Some of these cases can come down to he said, she said, so witnesses to the alleged crime or character witnesses may play an important role in exonerating someone of the charges.

Federal crimes can carry very serious penalties. It is critical that individuals who are accused of federal crimes, such as extortion create a strong and immediate defensive strategy based on the specific facts of the case.

Source: US News & World Report, "NY man charged with trying to extort Paula Deen", July 6, 2013.

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