Producer admits to attempted Letterman shakedown - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Producer admits to attempted Letterman shakedown

Posted: Updated:

NEW YORK – A television producer admitted Tuesday to trying to shake down David Letterman in a case that bared the late-night icon's affairs with staffers, avoiding a long prison sentence by pleading guilty in exchange for six months in jail and community service.

Robert "Joe" Halderman, 52, entered the plea in a Manhattan court to attempted grand larceny after being accused of demanding $2 million to keep quiet about the late-night comic's workplace love life.

Halderman, a producer for CBS' "48 Hours Mystery," had mined information from reading his then-girlfriend's diary entries about her relationship with Letterman, her boss, authorities said.

The Manhattan district attorney's office said the debt-strapped Halderman threatened to ruin Letterman's reputation, disguising his demands as a deal for a thinly veiled screenplay about the comedian.

"In September of 2009, I attempted to extort $2 million from David Letterman by threatening to disclose personal and private information about him, whether true or false," Halderman said in court, reading a prepared statement at first so quickly that Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon asked him to slow down.

Halderman acknowledged delivering the threat to Letterman's driver, in the form of a screenplay outline, or "treatment."

"This so-called treatment was just a thinly veiled threat to ruin Mr. Letterman if he did not pay me a lot of money," Halderman said, dressed in a gray suit. He subsequently met with Letterman's lawyer, who eventually gave him a phony $2 million check.

"I knew throughout this time that I was not engaged in a legitimate business transaction with Mr. Letterman and that what I was doing was against New York law," Halderman said, adding that he realized he had violated the privacy of Letterman and his family.

"I feel great remorse for what I have done," Halderman said, apologizing to Letterman, the comic's family, and his own former girlfriend, Stephanie Birkett.

Outside court, Halderman repeated his apologies, declined any interviews and said no more. He remains free on bail until his sentencing, set for May 4. In addition to the jail sentence, he agreed to 1,000 hours of community service; he would have faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted at a trial.

Through his lawyers, Letterman thanked Manhattan prosecutors for pursuing the case.

"When they became involved in this case, I had complete faith that a just and appropriate result was inevitable," he said in a statement they read outside court.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. noted that Letterman had come to authorities knowing the case could push his private life into public view.

"Mr. Letterman is a public figure, but like all New Yorkers, he has a right to a certain degree of privacy in his public life," said Vance, who took over the case from predecessor Robert Morgenthau in January.

Halderman's lawyer, who had raised free-speech and other issues in his attempt to portray the producer's behavior as a business deal, said Halderman ultimately decided he needed to end the case.

"We had a novel defense here involving complicated legal issues. I was very excited about the defense," said the lawyer, Gerald Shargel. "But there would be a long road ahead of us, and considering the risks and the rewards and the need for Joe to put this behind him and get on with his life, those needs were paramount."

Letterman married longtime girlfriend Regina Lasko last year. They began dating in 1986 and have a 6-year-old son.

  • Entertainment NewsEntertainment NewsMore>>

  • German doctors: Pussy Riot poisoning 'highly plausible'

    German doctors: Pussy Riot poisoning 'highly plausible'

    Tuesday, September 18 2018 4:26 AM EDT2018-09-18 08:26:55 GMT
    Wednesday, September 19 2018 2:39 AM EDT2018-09-19 06:39:29 GMT
    (Cinema for Peace Foundation/dpa via AP). This photo provided by the Cinema For Peace Foundation shows Pjotr Wersilow, member of the Russian Punk band 'Pussy Riot' receiving medical treatment in an ambulance as he arrives at the Schoenafeld airport in ...(Cinema for Peace Foundation/dpa via AP). This photo provided by the Cinema For Peace Foundation shows Pjotr Wersilow, member of the Russian Punk band 'Pussy Riot' receiving medical treatment in an ambulance as he arrives at the Schoenafeld airport in ...
    German doctors treating Pyotr Verzilov, a member of Russian protest group Pussy Riot, say claims that he was poisoned are "highly plausible," based on his symptoms. 
    German doctors treating Pyotr Verzilov, a member of Russian protest group Pussy Riot, say claims that he was poisoned are "highly plausible," based on his symptoms. 
  • Emmys: An epic proposal, but winners lacking in diversity

    Emmys: An epic proposal, but winners lacking in diversity

    Tuesday, September 18 2018 3:16 AM EDT2018-09-18 07:16:55 GMT
    Tuesday, September 18 2018 11:09 PM EDT2018-09-19 03:09:07 GMT
    (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP). Glenn Weiss, right, winner of the award for outstanding directing for a variety special for "The Oscars" and Jan Svendsen pose in the press room after getting engaged at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday, S...(Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP). Glenn Weiss, right, winner of the award for outstanding directing for a variety special for "The Oscars" and Jan Svendsen pose in the press room after getting engaged at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday, S...
    A romantic marriage proposal captured the hearts of the Emmy audience _ and deflected attention from a lack of diversity among the winners. 
    A romantic marriage proposal captured the hearts of the Emmy audience _ and deflected attention from a lack of diversity among the winners. 
  • Tracee Ellis Ross leads parade of pink on Emmys carpet

    Tracee Ellis Ross leads parade of pink on Emmys carpet

    Tuesday, September 18 2018 12:46 AM EDT2018-09-18 04:46:53 GMT
    Tuesday, September 18 2018 9:27 PM EDT2018-09-19 01:27:42 GMT
    (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP). Tracee Ellis Ross arrives at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.(Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP). Tracee Ellis Ross arrives at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
    The pinks had it on Emmys gold carpet, led by Tracee Ellis Ross, with a heavy dose of yellow. 
    The pinks had it on Emmys gold carpet, led by Tracee Ellis Ross, with a heavy dose of yellow. 
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 KFMB-TV. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.