One of the Teamsters charged with attempting to extort a “Top Chef” production team terrified the show’s celebrity host, Padma Lakshmi, after he said “I’ll smash your pretty little face” in an encounter outside a local eatery, federal prosecutors allege.
In court documents filed earlier this week, the US Attorney’s office said John Fidler tried to block the driveway of Milton’s Steel & Rye restaurant, which was the set of a “Top Chef” production, when Lakshmi arrived in a minivan in June 2014.
Fidler, whose jury trial for the case is scheduled to start July 31, reached into the minivan with his arm, and said “Lookie what we have here,” prosecutors wrote in recently file court papers.
He then referred to the driver of the van as a slur and then said, “I’ll smash your pretty little face,” prosecutors said.
“The host was terrified and ordered the van driver to back out and find another way,” to enter the restaurant, prosecutors said in the brief.
Fidler is one of five Teamsters from the Charlestown-based Local 25 who authorities allege used strong-arm tactics in an attempt to extort jobs from the show. Last fall, one of the Teamsters pleaded guilty to a federal attempted extortion charge. Four defendants, including Fidler, remain.
Prosecutors have said Local 25 union members warned the show’s producers that they would picket any event in which the crew did not hire union drivers.
Recent court filings paint a a picture of physical and verbal intimidation outside the Steel & Rye in 2014.
On the same day as the Lakshmi incident, Teamsters swore at the show’s production crew using homophobic, racial, and misogynistic slurs, according to a brief filed earlier this week. The tires of at least nine vehicles belonging to the show’s production company were slashed that morning, according to prosecutors. At one point, Teamsters bumped into production assistants with their stomachs and chests, prosecutors said.
Messages left with Fidler’s attorneys were not returned Wednesday night.
Read the trial brief below: