"Top Chef" star Padma Lakshmi is expected to testify in a Massachusetts trial of four Teamsters, with opening arguments slated for Tuesday.
Four members of Teamsters Union Local 25 in New England are charged with attempting to extort a nonunion production company that was filming episodes of the hit Bravo reality TV show in Massachusetts in June 2014. They have pleaded not guilty.
Lakshmi is expected to testify for the prosecution at the trial in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts.
The allegations against the defendants center around a series of alleged incidents in 2014 concerning efforts by the production company, which is not identified in the indictment, to film at various sites in the Boston area.
The indictment charges the defendants with one count of conspiracy to extort and one count of extortion for alleged actions between about May 1 and Oct. 31, 2014, but the charging document focuses primarily on a short period from June 5 to June 10 when the production was in the Boston area to film episodes of "Top Chef."
On June 5, the indictment says, one of the defendants approached the production crew at a Boston hotel where they were filming and demanded that the company hire Teamster drivers. A series of alleged, related incidents culminated five days later, on June 10, when as the production crew was trying to film at a restaurant in Milton just outside Boston the defendants allegedly harassed and used and threatened to use physical violence against production company members.
Some of the defendants allegedly at one point tried to enter the restaurant when "they chest-bumped and stomach-bumped crew members," the indictment said. "The defendants continued to use and threaten to use physical violence ... yelled profanities and racial and homophobic slurs ... [and] blocked vehicles," the indictment says.
Nine vehicles belonging to the production crew were later found to have their tires slashed, the indictment adds.
According to an FBI report obtained by ABC News, Lakshmi told the FBI she felt threatened when pulling up to the restaurant to film, describing the situation as "volatile and tense." She said one of the defendants came up to her car when the window was down, leaned in less than 15 inches away from her face and said something like, "We’re going to bash your pretty little face in."
One of the defendants, John Fidler, told ABC News in an exclusive interview before the start of the trial that he was working for the Teamsters Motion Picture and Theatrical Trade Division as a driver on the set of a movie when he was asked by his union local to picket one of the filming sites for "Top Chef."
The president of Local 25 declined to comment to ABC News and is not on the witness list for the defense or prosecution.
Fidler said he was one of the picketers at the restaurant on June 10, 2014, but he said he believes he and the other four defendants are being unfairly blamed for the union action against the production company for what he called "a nothing show." Fidler said he didn't engage in any violence or use violent language toward the production company.