An Emmy Award-winning CBS News producer has been suspended for allegedly trying to extort $2 million from David Letterman over sexual affairs that late night talk show host had with female employees.
Robert "Joe" Halderman -- who worked on the news program 48 Hours -- was arrested Thursday by two plain-clothes police officers outside the CBS News broadcast center in New York City on charges of attempted grand larceny in the first degree. (If convicted, Halderman could face between 9 to 22 years behind bars.) Reports are circulating that Halderman dated Letterman's former assistant, Stephanie Birkitt, who is allegedly one of the women at the center of the alleged extortion case.
In a statement, a network rep says: "CBS was made aware of an ongoing police investigation involving David Letterman and an employee at 48 Hours who was subsequently arrested yesterday on charges of attempted grand larceny in the first degree. CBS is cooperating fully with the authorities and the employee has been suspended pending the results of the investigation. Mr. Letterman addressed the issue during the show's broadcast last night, and we believe his comments speak for themselves."
On his late night show Thursday, Letterman, 62, shocked his audience by revealing that three weeks ago he got in his car early in the morning and found a package with a letter saying, "I know that you do some terrible, terrible things and that I can prove you do some terrible things."
Letterman told his audience the letter contained proof.
He said he then called his lawyer to set up a meeting with Halderman, who threatened to write a screenplay and a book about Letterman unless he was given money.
Two meetings took place; during the last one, a check was delivered.
Letterman told his audience that he had to testify before a grand jury Thursday morning.
"I was worried for myself, I was worried for my family," he said. "I felt menaced by this, and I had to tell them all of the creepy things that I had done.
"The creepy stuff was that I have had sex with women who work for me on this show," he went on. "My response to that is yes, I have. Would it be embarrassing if it were made public? Yes, it would, especially for the women."
He added, "It's been a very bizarre experience. I felt like I needed to protect these people. I need to protect my family. I need to protect myself. Hope to protect my job."