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Joe Halderman took check from David Letterman but is still innocent, lawyer says

The lawyer for accused extortionist Robert “Joe” Halderman said today that the full story about his client’s alleged attempt to blackmail David Letterman for $2 million has not yet come out. During a round of interviews on the network morning shows, Gerald Shargel, a well-regarded criminal defense attorney, acknowledged that Halderman did deposit a check given to him by Letterman’s attorney, but said that his actions did not constitute attempted grand larceny.

“Depositing the check was not illegal,” Shargel told ABC’s Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America." “The surrounding circumstances are what’s relevant. The surrounding circumstances will reveal what Mr. Halderman’s intent was.”

Halderman, a veteran producer for the CBS newsmagazine “48 Hours Mystery,” was arrested Thursday after prosecutors said he demanded money from the late-night host in exchange for keeping quiet about affairs Letterman had with members of his staff.  The comic discussed the extortion attempt and admitted to the relationships on the "Late Show" Thursday night.

Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau said prosecutors have recordings of Halderman demanding the money from Letterman’s attorney, surreptitiously taped when the two met at a swank Manhattan hotel to discuss the deal.

Shargel declined to go into details about his client’s actions, saying he was still gathering information about the case, but said it did not make sense that Halderman would try to pull off such a crime. He noted repeatedly that he had never heard of an extortion attempt in which someone asks for a check.

“Joe Halderman was at CBS for 27 years,” he told Roberts. “Here's a guy who was an investigative journalist for so many years. He knows all about cops and wiretaps. And to suggest that he was trapped in an extortion plot is sort of preposterous.”

"I'm not saying he didn't take the check," Shargel told Maggie Rodriguez on CBS’ “The Early Show." “But the question at the end of the day is, what was his intent? One of the things that the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, one of the elements of the offense, is that Joe Halderman had specific criminal intent. And I say to you and to the public that we shouldn't rush to judgment, because I think, at the end of the day, when the case is tried and after the cross-examination of David Letterman and the full story comes out, I'm confident that a jury will not find that specific criminal intent."

On “Today,” Shargel suggested that Letterman is holding back facts about the case. “David Letterman gave what he wanted the public to know,” he told Ann Curry. “He wanted to get ahead of the story, and that’s what he did. He’s a master at manipulating audiences, that’s what he does for a living. So to think that David Letterman gave the entire story, and there’s nothing more to be said, is simply wrong.”

Shargel acknowledged that Halderman was struggling with financial problems since his divorce, but said the debt was not something new he had to contend with.

“Joe Halderman was not an extortionist,” he told Curry. “Joe Halderman is a person with an impeccable reputation, highly regarded in the industry and he’s entitled to the presumption of innocence.”

-- Matea Gold

Comments () | Archives (18)

Even Letterman said that he didn't promise not to publish the information, which would be a necessary element of extortion. But on the other hand, who pays $2 million for nothing? The promise was somewhat implied. But Letterman should have shut up on the air, because his words can be used against him now. I suppose he was more interested in managing his reputation than in seeing that the guy was convicted.

Is there a logic to this? The guys was caught with his pants down and pretends nothing happened. It is like shooting someone and not admitting holding a gun.

I think it's commendable that David Letterman admitted to what he did rather than lying and trying to hide it like many celebrities and politicians do. Extortionists and blackmailers should be held liable for their actions, and I'm glad Letterman called out Halderman.

What's new and can be expected from the role of defense attorneys? They can represent Judas and prove him innocent. On the other picture, David Lettermen looked like Pontius Pilate washing his hands after using his bed as the first hurdle for many years if pretty applicants wanted to be in the Late Show.

Gerald Shargel isn't going to score points with the jury pool by criticizing David Letterman's personal life and implying that it is somehow his fault that Joe Halderman blackmailed him. That won't fly at trial or anywhere else in New York. At this point, Letterman is a more valuable asset to CBS than Halderman, who, although not yet convicted, is recorded on tape committing a criminal act. Letterman committed no illegal acts by socializing with staff members after hours. The best Halderman can do is throw himself on the mercy of the court. Judging from Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau's comments, however, I doubt the court will feel much sympathy.

My take? I think the issue is really sexual harassment. I think the woman Halderman was friends with, the one who slept with Letterman, probably accused Letterman of sexual harassment. Halderman probably threatened to go public with the info and will argue the money was an out of court settlement of the issue.

David Letteram, by face, is a "Creepy & Satan Minded" person who made fun of everybody and always maximized his efforts to disrespect other in front of his dumb audience. Now, he is a fun for everybody all over the World. Its payback time. CBS should kick him out. In a Civilized World, we don't need a blacksheep like him.

Didn't he steal private property; tresspassing private property; and breaking into another person's (Letterman's) car!!
This must be judicially considered a crime?

Sniffing into other people's life; isn't it voyeur? Is that legal?

Where is this slimebag Halderman getting the money to pay Gerry Shargel?
Is he getting it from one of Nixon's old hush money slush funds?

After details are revealed, Letterman's on air confession may turn out to be the talk show host's biggest stupid human trick ever.

Mr. Halderman is right on. That old, old man David Letterman is an idiot!

Halderman will walk. As long as he has the excuse that, "I was only trying to sell a screenplay about Dave's exploits, and gave Dave first bid for the benefit of Worldwide Pants" Halderman will be "not guilty." Check and all.

David's objective Thursday night was to initiate spin as damage control to stabelize advertising revenue for the short term. This revenue is key to David's continuation with CBS. Future viewership will be difficult to control, so there's likely several more "plays" in his campaign. One thing for sure, there will be transparency in David's business moving forward. Media will surface the women, claims made, and more. Joe is not an idiot; there's a story here beyond what meets the eye today.

Curious George - so you believe that this is how out of court settlements are arranged and paid for? Also, from all accounts, the woman Letterman had a relationship is no longer involved with Halderman and is upset that she was used in this manner by Halderman.

Uh, more to come, vague promises accusing Letterman of doing himself in are irrelevant nonsense. It reminds me of the joke, "how do you keep a moron in suspense? I'll tell you next week." Neither you nor Halderman's lawyer have anything but this tired, worn-out, timeless claim. How many times has a charged criminal claimed "you just wait until the whole truth comes out!" The reality is that when someone goes to that card, that person is almost always found guilty, or hides behind an out of court settlement, claiming "hey, I admitted to no wrong-doing." Face it, this is a criminal case, not a civil case. If you have proof, put it up here. If not, keep of the board. Otherwise, you just look like a schmuck.

"Shargel declined to go into details about his client’s actions, saying he was still gathering information about the case, but said it did not make sense that Halderman would try to pull off such a crime."

oookay. So he doesn't have all the details, yet he's out there defending him? And who cares if it "doesn't make sense"? When does any crime make sense? I don't know if he's guilty, but this lawyer doesn't seem to be helping.

curious george, that's a really good theory.

I always liked David Letterman but not anymore. I think it's disgusting that he used his position to be with the women who worked for him. Why the hell did he get married? Doesn't marriage mean a damn thing anymore? I'm sick and tired of hearing about all of these celebrities that are constantly on the make and will drop their drawers at the drop of a hat. Just a bunch of immoral losers that don't respect the partners they're with. I hope his wife dumps his ass.


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