This undated image released by Smithfield Foods shows celebrity chef Paula Deen wearing a Smithfield apron as she stands in front of various Smithfield meat products. On Monday, June 24, 2013, Smithfield Foods said it was dropping Deen as a spokeswoman. The announcement came days after the Food Network said it would not renew the celebrity cook's contract in the wake of revelations that she used racial slurs in the past. (AP Photo/Smithfield Foods via PRNewsFoto)

SAVANNAH, Georgia (AP) — A U.S. man has pleaded not guilty to charges of trying to extort embattled celebrity chef Paula Deen.

An indictment filed July 10 in U.S. District Court charges Thomas George Paculis with trying to extort $200,000 from Deen in exchange for keeping quiet about allegedly damaging remarks she had made in the past. Details on those alleged remarks, and the relationship between Paculis and Deen, were unclear.

A message left with Paculis’ court-appointed attorney on Tuesday wasn’t returned.

The case took form after Deen’s culinary empire began crumbling in response to her acknowledgement that she had used racial slurs in the past.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.