Letterman Extortionist Freed from NY Jail

Robert J. Halderman and David Letterman
The former television producer who tried to blackmail David Letterman over the comedian's office affairs was freed from jail Thursday, city Correction Department records show.

Robert "Joe" Halderman served four months of his six-month sentence in the case, which exposed Letterman's personal life to public scrutiny. Halderman got time off for good behavior during his stint at the Rikers Island jail complex, but he isn't done with his sentence: He still has to complete 1,000 hours of community service.

"He survived this, and he's glad to be getting off the island," his lawyer, Gerald Shargel, said Wednesday. The former CBS "48 Hours" producer - who's up for a News and Documentary Emmy award this year - is looking for work, Shargel added.

Halderman, 52, pleaded guilty earlier this spring to attempted grand larceny. He admitted he demanded $2 million in hush money last fall to keep from revealing personal information about Letterman.

The case spurred the "Late Show" host to reveal on-air that he'd had sex with women on his staff.

Halderman's scheme was fueled by both financial problems and romantic jealousy, his lawyer has said. Halderman had seen from peeking in his girlfriend's diary that she'd had a relationship with Letterman, her boss - information he used to bolster his threat to make the comic icon's world "collapse around him," authorities said.

The divorced Halderman has since remarried, Shargel said. And while he no longer has his job at CBS's "48 Hours" - the network has declined to discuss whether he resigned or was fired - he is up for an Emmy for an April 2009 story about an American exchange student charged with murder in Italy. He was one of four producers cited for the story. The news Emmys will be presented Sept. 27 in New York.

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His community service will entail providing job training to formerly homeless people and convicts getting out of prison.

Letterman married longtime girlfriend Regina Lasko last year. They began dating in 1986 and have a 6-year-old son.

While Letterman's popularity emerged unscathed from the scandal, the host has said it was an emotional blow.

"You take a look at the explosion, and it knocks you down, and you wake up every morning, and you're scared and you're depressed and sad," he said on "Live! With Regis and Kelly" in April.

"And you kind of got to let that knock you down and knock you down, and then pretty soon you've got to start knocking IT down. And then, when that happens, you start looking at the pieces left of your life."