« Previous Post | Show Tracker Home | Next Post »

Alleged Letterman extortionist said he needed to 'make a large chunk of money'

Halderman1 Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau said today that a “48 Hours” producer wrote to David Letterman saying that he needed to “make a large chunk of money” and included a one-page screenplay treatment describing how the “Late Show” host would have a “ruined reputation” after he exposed details of his private life.

Robert Joel Halderman, 51, a longtime CBS employee, left the letter and other materials in the back seat of Letterman’s car outside his Manhattan home early the morning of Sept. 9. In his proposed screenplay, he referred to Letterman’s professional success and his “beautiful and loving son.” He then wrote that Letterman’s “world is about to collapse around him” as details about his private life are exposed. He demanded that Letterman call him by 8 a.m. to strike a deal.

Instead, the comic called his attorney, who met with Halderman on Sept. 15. At that time, the CBS producer demanded $2 million to keep quiet information he had about sexual liaisons Letterman has had with his staff.

At the instruction of the district attorney’s office, Letterman’s attorney held two more meetings with Halderman at the Essex House, an upscale hotel, and secretly taped his demands. On Wednesday, Letterman’s attorney gave the man a fake check for $2 million, which he attempted to deposit in a Connecticut bank the next day. Halderman was arrested outside the CBS News offices on West 57th Street Thursday afternoon.

“The message of this case is that New York City will not tolerate the coercion or extortion of anyone, be the victim rich or poor, famous or anonymous,” Morgenthau said in a packed news conference at his downtown office. “The law prohibits conduct like the defendant’s and attaches severe penalties to it. We intend to enforce the law.”

Letterman described the extortion attempt Thursday night on his program, saying he "felt menaced" by Halderman.

Halderman was indicted on one count of attempted grand larceny in the first degree, punishable by up to 5 to 15 years in prison. He is to be arraigned this afternoon.

Morgenthau declined to comment on the specifics about Letterman’s behavior that Halderman threatened to expose or the materials he provided backing up his threats. “We’re not here to enforce the blue laws, we’re here to enforce the criminal law,” he said.

-- Matea Gold


Letterman Top 10 list: Extortion and sex scandal edition

Letterman's blackmail scandal boosts ratings 22% 

David Letterman on extortion attempt: 'I felt menaced by this'

Robert J. Halderman appears in State Supreme Court in New York, Friday, Oct. 2, 2009, for an arraignment on an attempted grand larceny charge. Halderman, a CBS producer, pleaded not guilty to trying to blackmail David Letterman for $2 million in a plot that spurred the TV host to acknowledge sexual relationships with women who worked on his show. (AP Photo/Pool, Steve Hirsch)

Comments () | Archives (41)

Instead of blackmailing Letterman, the guy should've sold the story to the tabloids. He could've picked up a few bucks there.

a) How stupid is this extortionist? When has this ever worked and
b) Letterman doesn't lock his car doors in Manhattan???

Well It looks like no more producing jobs for you Halderman.

WoW, how did this guy expect to get away with this?
I can see some dumb desperate bum from the streets with nothing to lose, but a CBS producer with so much to lose?
and then shows up to work as if nothing happened? laughable!!

yes, again, two laws one for the peasant class - us and the other laws for the aristocratic celebs - the vehemently worshiped ones by the godless society that we are now - there is still worship going on its just to these people and other secular things. point being, i guess sexual harrasment laws dont apply to letterman? out of all of these women surly there was one or two that really would not have chosen to do him but for job security reasons. also hes a boorish lib so that gets him extra bonus points.

It's amazing what people will do for money. This story is pitiful on so many levels. What's worst is that we are no longer even shocked by lascivious behavior from public figures. So I'm not sure how much leverage the extortionist really had in this case. What I want to know is how did the guy get into the back of Letterman's car in order to deposit the package?


MSM circles the wagons and the canonization of Letterman commences. He's the victim and a "hero" (seriously?) for making the announcement. Men boinking their secretaries are not going to let Letterman get vilified.

Letterman was wrongly blackmailed and that is criminal, but he ruined his own reputation with his elective actions.

His secretary may realize that she was used when she's older and she gains life experience. Right now she probably thinks it was flattering that a big star zeroed in on her, and that Letterman is her pal. Letterman is a predator.

Bob - Point taken but I think you miss one very large aspect of our legal system here ... innocent until proven guilty.

Where in the story did it do anything other than suggest Letterman had contact with his female staffers be it inappropriate or not? If it did allege something, it could be considered libel as the allegations made by Mr. Halderman are spurious and likely unsubstantiated. He saw an opportunity to blackmail Letterman by suggesting he would ruin his public image. Frankly you should be thankful laws exist in this country to discourage and/or prosecute this kind of behavior because given otherwise, all it would take is for someone to simply allege something whether factual or not and anyone's reputation and career could be ruined. As with anything of this nature, I suggest we wait until all the facts are in, if ever, before passing judgement. Good advice all around wouldn't you agree?

As for godlessness ... that would be your opinion and there are many polls and statistics to suggest America is anything but godless. Frankly the freedom to practice or not practice a faith is appropriately framed in our Constitution and a major tenet of our society your opinion notwithstanding.

now this story would make a great movie.

Whoops. Sorry folks ... my comments were directed at "bill" not a non-existent Bob. My mistake.

Star power is attractive to women and Letterman has had it for years. Yes he probably initiated some flirtation and likely it was consensual. Now this explains why a 60 year old would stay single for so long. Letterman knows that people wouldn't care if he did have inappropriate relationships with co-workers. People love him. If later he is accused of Sexual Harassment, the studio would settle. But would they ever fire Letterman? Our desire to watch him everyday and a comapany wanting a dollar will never let that happen. Maybe he wants to be fired. I'm sure he will enjoy the early retirement.

what a lousy plan - attempt to blackmail a guy with absolutely no shame - also, got to wonder whether the "feminists" be AWOL yet again on another abuse of women by a man in a position of power?

I really don't get all this attention to David Letterman when war criminals are running around Capitol Hill and Senator Demitt is in Honduros interferring with diplomatic affirs reserved to the State Department. The Senator is supporting the coup and telling the army down there to ignore the Obama administration. I think there is a word for that...! Yet, the media is all up in Letterman's business?

Letterman likely uses a car service and left the package with the driver. OR he parks in a garage and the guy tipped the parking attendant to deliver the package. I'm sure David Letterman isn't parking his car on the street in NYC.

extortion? What would have happened if the alleged suspect had just written the book that he threatened? Nothing at all. No legal penalties at all.
So the moron goes to jail.
I hear lots of comics are trying to get on Letterman. On his show, that is.

I had a customer rip me off for thousands of dollars, and I couldn't even get a policeman to show up.

After firing Dan Rather, it would be hypocritical for CBS not to fire Dave Letterman. Letterman's indiscretions were grossly irresponsible. compromising not only himself, but also CBS and most of all the women who were involved.
For a comedian who made a living out of lampooning other public figures who engaged in sexual escapades, he is now crippled, living in a glass house. He doesn't dare joke anymore about Bill Clinton, Mark Foley, Gov. Sanford, etc. or any of their kind without being hypocritical. I will miss him but he has got to go.

I'm going to assume this Halderman character is addicted to either drugs or gambling. Because unless he needed money, and lots of money, fast to support a habit, I can't understand why a 20-year network producer with a good job, two kids and a good salary would go ahead and destroy his career by trying to blackmail a major celebrity in broad daylight. He had to have been desperate and in some alcoholic mist or drug-addled haze or debt-ridden gambling mess. Now he's arrested and has nothing. And I'm sure his two kids are really proud of their dad in jail. I just don't get why anyone would resort to an inept extortion plot when they could just go ahead and write and sell the book or screenplay for a large chunk of money without the whole extortion part.

David Letterman?

Who cares?

He wasn't single. And it's not consensual when it's a young subordinate. These guys don't pick an equal. It's someone young without power whose employment they control.

1 2 3 | »


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.




Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: