updated 03/09/2010 AT 3:20 PM ET
•originally published 03/09/2010 AT 2:50 PM ET
David Letterman avoided a potentially messy trial that would have shed light on his relationship with employees of his CBS Late Show as a former CBS News producer, Robert “Joe” Halderman, pleaded guilty Tuesday to attempted grand larceny in a Manhattan courtroom.
He was sentenced to six months in prison for attempting to extort $2 million from the late-night host in exchange for keeping quiet about Letterman’s affair with a staffer.
Halderman, 52, had originally pleaded not guilty in October but accepted a plea bargain. In addition to the jail time, he received 5 years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service.
“I have great remorse for what I have done,” Halderman told the court.
Letterman attorney Daniel J. Horwitz said in a statement: “His admissions today were compelling, and for that he will receive a serious sentence.” In his own statement, Letterman thanked the district attorney and New York City Police Department. “When they became involved with this case, I had complete faith that a just and appropriate result was inevitable,” he said. “On behalf of my family, I am extremely grateful for their tireless efforts.”
Halderman had lived with Stephanie Birkitt, a staffer on CBS’s The Late Show with David Letterman, and learned about Birkitt’s affair with Letterman, who is married with a young son.
When Halderman demanded $2 million not to go public with the information, Letterman went to the police. Halderman was arrested while trying to cash a fake check. Initially, his attorney had tried to build a defense claiming that his client was simply trying to market a screenplay to Letterman.
Letterman soon admitted his infidelity on the air, apologized to his wife and said his behavior was inappropriate, and even “creepy.”