NEW YORK (CBS/AP) An attorney for Robert "Joe" Halderman, the CBS producer accused of extorting David Letterman over the talk show host's sexual affairs, says he wants to put the late night king on the stand.
"I look forward to cross-examining David Letterman," Gerald Shargel told Ann Curry on the "Today Show" Monday.
Halderman, a producer for the true-crime show "48 Hours Mystery," pleaded not guilty in a Manhattan court to one count of attempted first-degree grand larceny, punishable by five to 15 years in prison. Prosecutors said Halderman threatened to expose Letterman's numerous sexual affairs with staffers unless he was paid $2 million.
Halderman was released on $200,000 bail bond on Saturday.
His attorney, Shargel, pressed the Emmy award-winning producer's case on Monday in a media blitz on all three major network morning shows.
"The case that has been described by the prosecution makes absolutely no sense," he told Curry. "In the history of extortion attempts there has never been, as far as I know, someone paying by check, but I assure you the public should not rush to judgment. The public should not take the word of David Letterman at face value or the prosecutor at face value."
Shargel said he would go on the offensive in a courtroom battle, potentially setting his sights on Letterman personally. "It's not only motive, intent and conduct of Joe Halderman," he told Curry. "It's the motive intent and conduct of David Letterman as well. As I have said I look forward to cross-examining David Letterman."
Shargel also took a pot shot at Letterman's motivation behind revealing the alleged extortion plot to a national audience last Thursday night on his own show.
"He's a master at manipulating audiences," Shargel said. "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."
What exactly the rest of the story is remains unclear. Shargel claimed it was too early in the case to discuss details, but frequently returned to his client's long standing reputation as a respected newsman.
"I am here to say today that after this avalanche of publicity about Joe Halderman the extortionist, that Joe Halderman was not an extortionist. That Joe Halderman is a person with an impeccable reputation, highly regarded in the industry and he is entitled to the presumption of innocence."
"Is he innocent," Curry asked.
"He's innocent." Shargel replied.
MORE ON CRIMESIDER
October 2, 2009 - CBS Employee Robert Joe Halderman Charged with $2M David Letterman Extortion Plot
October 2, 2009 - Letterman Video: Admits Sex Extortion Plot
October 2, 2009 - Robert Joe Halderman, 48 Hours Producer, Named in David Letterman Sex Extortion Plot