Man who blackmailed Letterman jailed

May 5th, 2010 by – Former CBS Corp. television producer Robert ‘Joe’ Halderman was sentenced to six months in jail for trying to extort $2 million US from David Letterman by threatening to reveal information about the talk-show host’s sex life.

Halderman, 52, was promised the sentence when he pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted larceny March 9. He also will serve five years’ probation and do 1,000 hours of community service, New York State Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon said Tuesday.

Halderman agreed to forfeit the screenplay treatment he wrote about Letterman that he used to negotiate a payment from the TV personality’s lawyer, and not to discuss or otherwise disseminate anything about Letterman and his family related to the treatment or the case.

Halderman, who didn’t speak at the hearing, admitted in March he was trying to blackmail the talk-show host when left a package marked “privileged and confidential” with Letterman’s driver outside his Manhattan home Sept. 9, including a one-page screenplay treatment. Halderman wrote that Letterman’s world was “about to collapse around him” as details of his private life were disclosed, according to prosecutors.

“Halderman’s threat was simple: Unless Mr. Letterman paid him $2 million, defendant Halderman would make public information about a purported personal, sexual relationship between Mr. Letterman and his assistant,” prosecutors said.

Halderman was arrested Oct. 1 after Letterman reported the plot to authorities. Letterman revealed it on his television program the same day.

Halderman, a producer at CBS for more than 27 years, claimed he wrote the proposal after dating and, in 2005, living with Stephanie Birkitt, a woman who worked on the CBS Late Show with Letterman, according to court filings.

In late 2008, he discovered Birkitt was “carrying on a sexual relationship with Letterman,” according to court filings. Halderman confronted Birkitt, who promised to end the relationship. In the summer of 2009, he learned that it had continued.

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