Letterman Extortion Suspect Robert Halderman Uses Tiger Woods "Sex Scandal Defense"

(AP Photo/Louis Lanzano)
(CBS/John Paul Filo)
(AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)
NEW YORK (CBS/AP) The CBS News producer accused of shaking down David Letterman to keep mum about his affairs is drawing on the Tiger Woods sex scandal to try to bolster his defense.

Photo: Robert Halderman outside Manhattan criminal court Nov. 10, 2009, in New York.

In court papers filed Tuesday, Robert "Joe" Halderman's lawyer cited published reports that Woods paid an alleged mistress millions of dollars to stay silent. Attorney Gerald Shargel suggested that since the woman hasn't been charged with a crime, Halderman shouldn't be, either.

Photo: David Letterman.

"Evidence of celebrity misdeeds has a significant fair market value," lawyer Gerald Shargel wrote. "... Evidence of such misdeeds is routinely suppressed through private business arrangement."

Halderman, 52, has pleaded not guilty to attempted grand larceny in a case that shoved Letterman's love life into public view. The "Late Show" host stunned viewers in October by abruptly revealing the extortion case and acknowledging he had had affairs with women on his staff.

Authorities say Halderman demanded $2 million as hush money, threatening to reveal information he'd gleaned from reading in his then-girlfriend's diary that she had had trysts with Letterman, her boss.

Graphic: Tiger Woods and bevy of alleged mistresses.

Halderman's threat was couched as an outline of a thinly veiled screenplay about the comic's life unraveling with the disclosure of his dalliances, prosecutors say.

Shargel says Halderman just offered to sell his "very marketable story" to Letterman and to keep it confidential as part of the deal.

Photo: Robert Halderman exits Manhattan criminal court, Nov. 10, 2009, in New York.

Prosecutors declined to comment on Halderman's attempt to draw a parallel to the scandal surrounding Woods. The golfer has acknowledged infidelities, without giving specifics, and has not said he paid anyone to keep quiet.

But Letterman's lawyer weighed in, calling the producer's latest argument a bid to shift attention from his own conduct.

"This was not a sale of anything legitimate, this was classic extortion," Letterman lawyer Daniel J. Horwitz said in a statement.

If convicted, Halderman could face up to 15 years in prison.

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