David Letterman told a dumbstruck audience that he was blackmailed for $2 million over sexual affairs with Late Show staffers.
Cops took banking information, letters, pictures and several electronic files from the home of a newsman accused of trying to blackmail David Letterman, according to a search warrant released on Thursday afternoon.
Prosecutor Suzanne Vieux filed papers Wednesday arguing that unsealing search warrants could subject witnesses to media scrutiny and hurt the prosecution. On Thursday a judge decided the documents should be released – but without the names of witnesses and "victims by association.”
The court documents don’t specifically name Letterman, but they do name his attorney, James Jackoway, and provide details about the alleged blackmail, according to the documents. They also name Robert J. "Joe" Halderman, a CBS News producer who has pleaded not guilty to charges he tried to extort $2 million from the late-night TV host in return for keeping some of the comedian's sexual affairs quiet.
Police took items from Halderman’s master bedroom and kitchen, including computers, disks, tapes, a Zip drive and photos.
The documents also go into detail about what allegedly happened. The story begins with a “public figure” – Letterman -- receiving a package from Robert Joel Halderman, who is also known as Joe Halderman. It contained a demand letter, a ‘treatment for a screenplay,’ portions of a diary and some sort of personal correspondence, the warrant reads.
Who those documents belonged to is blacked out, but Stephanie Birkitt, Letterman’s assistant, lived with Halderman, according to court documents released last week.
Halderman wrote that he needed “to make a large chunk of money” by selling a screenplay and threatened that Letterman’s world was about to collapse once personal information got out, ruining his reputation and damaging his career and family life.
Halderman’s letter also said he had many more letters, e-mails and photos.
On Sept. 15, Halderman and Letterman’s lawyer sat down and Halderman said he would keep the information to himself in exchange for $2 million, according to the court documents.
On Sept. 23, they met in a New York hotel to talk about the terms of the payoff and Halderman said he was also writing a book and would publish the information if he did not get $2 million, according to the documents.
On Oct. 1, cops searched Halderman’s house and he was arrested that day. He pleaded not guilty to grand larceny charges and was released after posting $200,000 bond.