Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Defendant in Letterman Extortion Case Pleads Guilty

The New York Times is reporting that Robert Haldermann, a CBS producer who was accused of attempting to extort $2 million from talk show host David Letterman, pleaded guilty today in State Supreme Court in Manhattan to second-degree attempted grand larceny. The plea agreement requires Haldermann to serve six months in jail, serve four and a half years on probation, and perform 1,000 hours of community service.

Mr. Halderman, an Emmy award-winning television producer, was accused of trying to extort $2 million from Mr. Letterman by threatening that he would make information about Mr. Letterman’s affairs public.

Mr. Halderman’s lawyer, Gerald L. Shargel, had argued that his client intended only to write a book or a screenplay about Mr. Letterman’s affairs, but that before going forward with the project, Mr. Halderman simply was offering to sell Mr. Letterman the rights to the story for $2 million.

Mr. Halderman is scheduled to be sentenced and go to jail on May 4. With good behavior, he could be released after as early as about four months.

“We raised some novel legal issues, novel defenses,” Mr. Shargel said by telephone after the court proceeding. “I couldn’t be at all certain that they would prevail. Weighing the risks against the rewards, I thought this was an opportunity to make the best of a bad mess.”

Outside the courthouse, one of Mr. Letterman’s lawyer read a statement from the CBS talk show host that thanked the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

“When they became involved with this case, I had complete faith that a just and appropriate result was inevitable,” the statement said. “On behalf of my family, I am extremely grateful for their tireless efforts.”

Daniel J. Horwitz, one of Mr. Letterman’s lawyers, added, “This is a serious sentence that properly reflects the crime he now admits he committed, and it brings this case to a fitting end.”

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