Letterman extortion suspect looks to Woods scandal

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.

"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 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. 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.

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.

Halderman, 52, is a producer for CBS' "48 Hours Mystery." If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison.

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