‘Top Chef’ host Padma Lakshmi expected to testify in Teamsters trial

BOSTON (WHDH) - “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi is expected to testify Monday in Boston federal court as the Teamsters extortion trial continues.

In June 2014, five members of Teamsters Local 25 are accused of trying to shutdown the production of an episode at Milton’s Steel and Rye restaurant, where Lakshmi was verbally threatened as she tried to cross their picket line.

The show’s co-executive producer, Erica Ross, testified last week that a union member shouted “I’ll smash your pretty little face” as she arrived to shoot the episode.

The Teamsters have pleaded not guilty to the charges. In a plea agreement with prosecutors, a fifth Teamster pleaded guilty last year to attempted extortion and was sentenced to two years’ probation with six months of home confinement. Mark Harrington told a judge he was merely trying to get jobs for union members.

Producer Ellie Carbajal broke down on the stand as she described union members using slurs offensive to women, minorities, and gays. She said the incident left Lakshmi “paralyzed with fear.”

The government said the threats amounted to an extortion plot, but defense lawyers said it was not a crime. They said the union members were simply picketing lawfully.

The Teamsters have pleaded not guilty to the charges. In a plea agreement with prosecutors, a fifth Teamster pleaded guilty last year to attempted extortion and was sentenced to two years’ probation with six months of home confinement. Mark Harrington told a judge he was merely trying to get jobs for union members.

(Copyright (c) 2017 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)