Grateful Letterman Praises N.Y. Cops and D.A. Office on Air

"Late Show" host dispenses with humor over end of sex extortion case

By DANIEL MACHT
|  Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010  |  Updated 2:48 AM CDT
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David Letterman's Highs and Lows

AP, Getty Images

"48 Hours" producer Robert J. Halderman (inset) pleaded guilty to grand larceny charges that allege a blackmail "sextortion" attempt on talk show host host David Letterman.

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No joke – David Letterman is just happy to put his sex extortion case behind him.

Hours after veteran journalist Robert Halderman pleaded guilty to attempting to fleece Letterman for $2 million, the “Late Show” host steered clear of humor in commenting about the case’s resolution on his program.

“I need to talk to you about a segment of my life here that began six months ago," Letterman said, striking a serious tone toward the end of an otherwise ordinary Tuesday night monologue.

“I found myself in some legal trouble, and pretty quickly, it was turned over to the District Attorney’s office here in Manhattan,” he said. “Now, I’d never been involved in anything like this in my life, and I was concerned and full of anxiety and nervous and worried.”

Letterman next said he was told to trust that people in the D.A.’s office would deftly handle the case.

“Well, the matter was resolved today, and they were exactly right—it was handled professionally, skillfully and appropriately,” he said.

The late-night comic went on to thank those who’d worked on his case by name, echoing a statement Letterman's lawyer made following Halderman’s guilty plea on felony grand larceny charges earlier Tuesday.

Prosecutors had accused Halderman, a 52-year-old former producer for the CBS show "48 Hours," of leaving a threatening package in Letterman’s car on Sept. 9. He was busted in a subsequent sting operation after allegedly demanding $2 million to keep quiet about his knowledge of Letterman’s affairs.

Until Halderman copped a guilty plea, his defense had argued he was simply proposing a business deal, not a shakedown.

"We had a novel defense here involving complicated legal issues. I was very excited about the defense," Halderman lawyer Gerald Shargel said Tuesday.  "But there would be a long road ahead of us, and considering the risks and the rewards and the need for Joe to put this behind him and get on with his life, those needs were paramount."

Halderman had faced up to 15 years in prison. Under terms of the plea agreement, he will reportedly be sentenced on May 4 to six months in jail with five years probation. He must also serve 1,000 hours of community service -- 500 hours in New York and 500 hours in Connecticut, his home state.

Halderman’s guilty plea also means Letterman does not have to take the stand or otherwise air more "embarrassing" details of his private life in open court.

Letterman’s public comments Tuesday contrasted with how he first addressed the case on his show. Back in October, Letterman interspersed self-deprecatory jokes with candid admissions of affairs with staffers and details of the extortion plot.

This time Letterman simply expressed gratitude and relief.
 

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