Published on: August 9, 2013
Photography by: NBC Universal via Getty

The man charged with trying to blackmail PAULA DEEN is ready to plead “guilty” in exchange for a lighter sentence before a federal judge.

Thomas George Paculis, 62, is set to appear Friday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Savannah. He pleaded not guilty during his first appearance last month. Legal documents filed in court last week say Paculis of Newfield, N.Y., has signed a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Details have yet to be released before the judicial sitdown.

Law enforcement authorities say Paculis contacted Deen's attorney and threatened to reveal damaging statements by the former Food Network star unless she paid him $200,000.

His extortion attempt came prior to The ENQUIRER’s release of official court documents detailing damning allegations made by former employee Lisa Jackson against the embattled Food Network star where Deen acknowledged using racial slurs in the past.

The ENQUIRER  has been covering the Deen-Jackson lawsuit for months.