Accused Letterman extortionist pleads guilty

Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:02am EST
 
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By Basil Katz

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A television producer pleaded guilty Tuesday to trying to extort $2 million from U.S. talk show host David Letterman by threatening to reveal his affairs with women who worked on his late-night program on CBS.

Robert Joel Halderman, a former producer for the CBS news program "48 Hours Mystery," reached a deal with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny in exchange for serving six months in jail, performing 1,000 hours of community service and giving up his right to appeal.

The case engulfed Letterman in a scandal when it became public in October, prompting the married comedian to admit to the affairs on the air. But it faded into the background weeks later when superstar golfer Tiger Woods' affairs were exposed.

At Tuesday's taping of his "Late Show with David Letterman" the host said that initially he was "full of anxiety and nervous and worried," but that prosecutors assured him it would be handled "skillfully and appropriately." He said it was.

"Thank you for your help," Letterman said, mentioning the New York prosecutors by name, according to a transcript of his monologue released by the "Late Show" producers.

Halderman, appearing in front of New York State Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon, said he felt "great remorse" for his actions and apologized to Letterman.

"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 told the judge.

Halderman was indicted by a grand jury in October and previously pleaded not guilty to attempted grand larceny. He had faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted.   Continued...