David Letterman, Robert Halderman

AP Photo/Evan Agostini; AP Photo/Pool, Marc A. Hermann

David Letterman's would-be blackmailer is headed to the Big House.

Robert "Joe" Halderman, the Emmy-winning CBS News producer accused of plotting to extort $2 million from the Late Show emcee, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted first-degree grand larceny today in a Manhattan courtroom as part of a deal with prosecutors that will allow him to avoid a lengthy prison sentence.

In exchange for admitting he tried to shake down Letterman by threatening to expose the funnyman's sexual liaisons with female staffers in the Home Office, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Charles H. Solomon handed the 48 Hours Mystery man six months in the slammer and four and a half years' probation. He also ordered him to perform 1,000 hours of community service.

It could've been much worse.

Halderman was initially facing up to 15 years in lockup had the case gone to trial and had he been convicted for the scheme.

Per the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, the 27-year CBS News veteran hit up Letterman for the dough after discovering that his then live-in lover, 34-year-old Stephanie Birkitt, had been secretly seeing the comedian while she worked at the Late Show.

An enraged and "desperate" Halderman, who owed thousands in child and spousal support to his ex-wife, tried to mask his intentions under the guise of a commercial transaction. He did so, prosecutors alleged, by claiming he was writing a screenplay treatment about the 62-year-old Letterman's dalliances and seeing if he wanted to buy it to keep word from leaking out.

But Dave wasn't buying and alerted authorities, who shortly thereafter set up a sting and nabbed Halderman, 52, after he accepted a fake $2 million check from Letterman.

In October, the gap-toothed comic went public with the whole sordid mess on his show, acknowledging that he had trysts with employees.

A rep for Letterman's company, World Wide Pants, issued a statement from the funnyman praising the D.A.'s Office for all its hard work.

"I would like to thank the District Attorney of Manhattan, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., the former District Attorney, Robert M. Morgenthau, the Special Prosecutions Bureau in the D.A.'s Office, and the New York City Police Department," said Letterman. "When they became involved with this case, I had complete faith that a just and appropriate result was inevitable. On behalf of my family, I am extremely grateful for their tireless efforts."


Catch up on the gory details of Letterman's search warrants here.

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share