Robert Halderman, the man who was accused by prosecutors of extorting and blackmailing “Late Show” host David Letterman, finally gave up on his concocted “screenplay” defense and pleaded to Attempted Grand Larceny by Extortion in Manhattan Supreme Court. In return for his plea, Mr. Halderman will be sentenced to six months in jail (he will serve roughly four months with good time) along with one thousand hours of community service and probation. This type of sentence involving probation and jail is commonly referred to in the practice of criminal law as a “split.”
Although he has yet to be sentenced, this plea marks the end of a ongoing saga for Mr. Halderman, Mr. Letterman and the employee who was in the middle of the conflict. I am confident there will be ample speculation as to why both a relatively low plea recommendation was made and why Mr. Halderman accepted such a plea (Mr. Halderman had faced no minimum term of incarceration, but up to 5 to 15 years in state prison). That being said, I believe Mr. Halderman and his attorney recognized that the “screenplay defense” wasn’t going to fly. Moreover, instead of recommending a state prison sentence where Mr. Halderman would have had no other choice but to take the case to trial, the prosecution may have wanted to spare Mr. Letterman and the employee any further embarrassment.
Mr. Halderman’s attorney unquestionably advocated for his client and fought as best he could to either have the case dismissed or reduced to avail his client of the best possible disposition. Once all legal and factual avenues have been zealously, but unsuccessfully, pursued, sometimes a criminal lawyer must advise the client that he or she should consider a little “medicine” rather than proceeding to trial where the likelihood of success may be significantly reduced.
For further information on Grand Larceny by Extortion and the “New York Extortion Primer” follow this link.
For further blog entries on the Letterman/Halderman case follow this link.
For Jeremy Saland’s commentary on the Letterman/ Halderman case for the LA Times follow this link.