Fox News guest decrying “migrant crime” previously arrested after getting violent over a grilled cheese sandwich he deemed too cheesy

On February 28, Fox News host Jesse Watters hosted “James Lee” on his show to discuss the murder of Laken Riley on the campus of the University of Georgia. Watters did not disclose, however, that Lee is actually James DePaola, who has had multiple run-ins with the law himself, including when he became violent over a grilled cheese sandwich his wife had made, prompting his 12-year-old daughter to call the police.

On February 28, Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz held a press conference. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the press conference had been interrupted multiple times by protesters, including James DePaola.

Law-enforcement officers did not remove anybody from the room while Girtz spoke, but police asked Athens resident James Depaola several times to wait his turn to speak.

“We the people are tired of this lawlessness,” Depaola told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after the press conference ended. “We are being put last.”

DePaola also spoke to at the press conference.

Later that day, Watters hosted “James Lee” on his show and played footage of DePaola interrupting the press conference, praising him for his actions. (Watters’ full “migrant crime spree” segment can be viewed here. Watters likens his guest to Rick Santelli's rant in 2009 that kicked off the tea party. His guest concludes by telling Watters that “You don't get the credit you deserve as a patriot and a real journalist.”)

Jesse Watters James Lee

Citation Fox News Channel, 2/28/24

He can also be seen shortly before the 4-minute mark in a video of the press conference posted by NBC News, when the camera pans away from the lectern.

James Lee certainly appears to be James DePaola, as others have begun to notice.

The Georgia Gazette has a picture of a “James Lee DePaola” related to a 2023 booking at Whitfield County jail. The picture appears to be the same man.

James Lee DePaola

Citation via Georgia Gazette

The site also has a booking picture from a 2020 booking in Gwinnett county.

 James Lee DePaola Georgia

Citation via Georgia Gazette

But before advising Fox News on immigration policy, DePaola was previously best known for violently threatening his wife after deciding that she had used too many slices of cheese on his grilled cheese sandwich, leading to his young daughter calling the police. As Time reported in 2016:

A man wanted just two slices of cheese on his sandwich, so when his wife used three slices in his grilled cheese sandwich, he became irate.

Angered at the sight of all the extra cheesiness, James DePaola became agitated and violent, yelling at the woman, Michele DePaola. According to WSB-TV, DePaola then ripped the landline out of the wall so his wife couldn’t call the police and reportedly screamed at her intensely. The couple’s 12-year old daughter who witnessed the incident called the police to the scene, according to Athens-Clarke County police.

James DePaola was charged with obstruction of a 911 call and criminal trespass/damage to property over what the police now refer to as “the grilled cheese incident”. DePaola has a history of “abusive behavior,” and was often “excessively critical and controlling of day to day things in life” like sandwiches, apparently.

Fox5 Atlanta posted a booking picture of DePaola at the time, making clear he is from Athens-Clarke County; the site also mentioned that two of his other young children were present when he threatened his wife.

James DePaola Fox5Atlanta

Citation via Fox5 Atlanta

While this may be Jesse Watters’ ideal guest, we cannot recommend that news outlets take public policy advice from someone violently triggered by an unexpected slice of cheese.

The real question is why Fox News didn’t tell its audience DePaola’s full name.