A CBS producer who works on the true-crime show 48 Hours pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he attempted to extort $2 million from David Letterman by threatening to reveal the Late Show host had sex with staffers.
Robert J. "Joe" Halderman pleaded in a New York City court to one count of attempted first-degree grand larceny. Bail was set at $200,000. Conviction could bring him five to 15 years in jail.
"Our concern here is extortion, and that's what we're focusing on," Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said.
The DA said Halderman, a 51-year-old Emmy-winning producer, left a letter for Letterman early Sept. 9, saying he needed "to make a large chunk of money" by selling Letterman a screenplay treatment — and promising that Letterman's world would "collapse around him" if details about his private life became public.
CBS said it had suspended Halderman from his job.
The plot led to a sting operation in which Letterman's lawyer recorded Halderman's demands, authorities said.
The Associated Press reported that documents filed in Stamford Superior Court in Connecticut show that Halderman, of Norwalk, Conn., was required to pay nearly $6,000 a month in child and spousal support.
"He's doing as well as can be expected," his lawyer, Gerald Shargel, said outside of court.
"There is another side to the story," Shargel said. "I'm not telling it today."
David Letterman marries
In March, Letterman married longtime girlfriend Regina Lasko. The two have a 6-year-old son together, Harry.
Letterman's show became the most popular in its time slot over the summer after NBC replaced Jay Leno with Conan O'Brien on The Tonight Show.
Preliminary estimates showed ratings went up 22 percent for Letterman's Thursday show. It had a 4.4 rating/12 share, compared with season averages of 3.6 rating/9 share.