David Letterman’s Alleged Blackmailer Headed to Court; Sources Say Halderman Intent on Trial, Raising Money For Defense

Joe Halderman, the CBS News producer accused of attempting to extort $2 million from CBS Late Show star David Letterman, will be headed to a Manhattan court on Tuesday morning for the first hearing in the criminal case against him.

Will Mr. Halderman, as it is widely assumed, try and reach a hasty plea agreement with prosecutors, beginning with Tuesday’s motions hearing?

That’s unlikely, according to a source close to Mr. Halderman.

Over the weekend, Dr. Bob Arnot, a friend and former colleague of Mr. Halderman, told The Observer that Mr. Halderman is currently planning to try and take the case all the way to trial. In a recent interview with Newsday‘s Verne Gay, Mr. Halderman’s attorney Gerald Shargel likewise suggested that no plea agreement is in the works.

That’s something of a surprise to those who have closely followed the case.


Ever since Mr. Halderman’s initial October 1 arrest on charges of attempted grand larceny, it’s been widely assumed that the troubled 48 Hours Mystery producer would quickly try to reach a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Those assumptions were based in part on widespread reports of Mr. Halderman’s financial problems. Mr. Halderman was making roughly $214,000-a-year from CBS at the time of his arrest and owed roughly $6,000 a month in child-support payments to his ex-wife, while also holding a series of hefty mortgages.

How would Mr. Halderman pay for a lengthy defense? Would he want to?

Under such circumstances, a quick plea bargain would seem to be an attractive possibility. Similarly, the victim of the alleged extortion, David Letterman, would presumably love to avoid the massive amounts of attention that would come with a criminal trial.

But he may be out of luck.

Over the weekend, Mr. Arnot told The Observer that Mr. Halderman has already raised $100,000 for his defense, and is planning to meet with friends and advisers in the coming weeks to discuss other fund-raising possibilities.

“This lawyer is a real litigator,” Mr. Arnot wrote via email, “and Joe is paying the full boat to go to trial.”

More from Felix Gillette:

Letterman’s Bizarre Late Night Love Triangle

Halderman Is a Guy’s Guy, Sort of Like Vince Vaughn