A 48 Hours Mystery producer entered a plea deal Tuesday in the David Letterman extortion case that entails six months in jail.
Robert "Joe" Halderman pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny in a Manhattan court. Under the deal, he will also get five years' probation and must perform 1,000 hours of community service.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said Halderman's guilty plea sent a strong message about the city's intolerance of extortion. He also applauded Letterman. "By not giving in to the defendant's extortionate demands for millions of dollars, and instead taking the courageous step of reporting the crime to law enforcement, Mr. Letterman risked the disclosure of certain aspects of his private life," Vance said in a statement. "I commend Mr. Letterman for making the difficult but unquestionably right decision to report this crime to my office and thank him for his full and complete cooperation throughout the investigation and prosecution of the case."
David Letterman admits having affairs, claims extortion
In a statement, Letterman thanked authorities and prosecutors for their efforts. "When they became involved with this case, I had complete faith that a just and appropriate result was inevitable," he said. "On behalf of my family, I am extremely grateful for their tireless efforts."
Letterman also thanked the prosecutors by name during the taping of The Late Show Tuesday. "I'd never been involved in anything like this in my life, and I was concerned and full of anxiety and nervous and worried. And the people in the District Attorney's office said, 'This will be handled professionally, this will be handled skillfully, and appropriately,'" Letterman said. "Well, the matter was resolved today, and they were exactly right — it was handled professionally, skillfully and appropriately."
David Letterman felt "threatened" over extortion attempt
Halderman was accused of trying to extort $2 million from the Late Show host to keep quiet about Letterman's extramarital affairs with his show's female staffers, including Halderman's ex-girlfriend. Prosecutors said Halderman, 52, left a letter for Letterman on Sept. 9, saying that Letterman's world would "collapse around him" if details about his private life became public.
The plot caused Letterman to publicly admit his affairs on his show in October and led to a sting operation that resulted in Halderman's arrest.
Lawyer for accused David Letterman blackmailer denies extortion
Halderman was charged with first-degree attempted grand larceny and pleaded not guilty in the fall. His lawyer, Gerald Shargel, initially denied extortion, saying that client was trying to sell Letterman a screenplay treatment and asked that the charge be dismissed, which a judge ruled against in January.
On Tuesday, Halderman said in court that the "so-called treatment was just a thinly veiled threat to ruin Mr. Letterman if he did not pay me a lot of money."
David Letterman extortion case expected to go to trial
Halderman, who would have faced 15 years in prison if convicted at a trial, will be sentenced May 4. He remains free on bail.