In 2004, Robert J. Halderman, a producer for the CBS show “48 Hours Mystery” began a relationship with “Late Show” staffer, Stephanie Birkitt. It was reported that Birkitt was also having an affair with “Late Show” host, David Letterman.
In 2005, Birkitt moved in with Halderman. In 2008, Halderman discovered that Stephanie was still having a relationship with Letterman. He confronted her about it, and she moved out. Halderman, states that he channeled his anger about the relationship into writing a screenplay which revealed the behind-the-scenes real-life atmosphere and conduct of the “Late Show” host, Letterman. The screenplay was about Letterman’s life unraveling around him as the result of the disclosure of his many sexual relationships with staffers.
On September 9, 2009, Halderman delivered a packet containing a one-page summary of the screenplay, called a Treatment, to Letterman’s driver. The packet contained copies of diary entries and steamy letters written by Birkitt about her affair with Letterman.
According to Halderman’s attorney, Gerald Shargel, three meetings were held between Halderman and Letterman’s lawyers in New York. A price of $2 million was agreed on for the screenplay. Halderman insisted on a written contract and agreed to accept a bank check. The check which was given to Halderman was designed to bounce. Also 2 of the 3 meetings were recorded as part of an investigation by the District Attorney who was working behind the scenes to collect evidence to nab Halderman.
Halderman was arrested and charged with attempted grand larceny (extortion) the day after he deposited the check. Authorities say he was arrested because he demanded $2 million as hush money from Letterman, threatening to reveal information he’d gleaned from Birkitt’s diary about her trysts with Letterman, her boss. They say that Halderman’s threat was couched as an outline of a thinly veiled screenplay about the comic’s life. Halderman was released on $200,000 bond. If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison.
In December, 2009, Tiger Woods, admitted to “transgressions” and to letting his family down. It was reported that Tiger had numerous extramarital affairs with several women including club hostess, Rachel Uchitel.
For reasons which are unclear, Rachel hired an attorney, Gloria Allred. A few weeks ago, Rachel and Allred, set up a press conference in LA for Rachel to make a statement. It was reported that a few hours before the press conference, reporters showed video of the two talking in public, and the press conference was canceled shortly after. Many people believe that Uchitel and Allred were trying to get Tiger Woods to make some sort of deal, so Uchitel would keep quiet. And so far, she has. Ms. Uchitel has denied all rumors about an affair with Woods although one of her friends went into details about the alleged affair in “The Enquirer”. Ms. Uchitel was last seen partying in Palm Beach, Florida.
On Tuesday, Halderman’s attorney, Gerald Shargel, made a motion to dismiss the charges against Halderman by invoking the “Tiger Defense.” In his motion papers, Shargel cited published reports that Woods paid an alleged mistress $5 millions to keep text messages and voice mails from Woods secret after her lawyer, Gloria Allred, scheduled a press conference. Shargel suggested that since the woman hasn’t been charged with a crime, Halderman shouldn’t be either.
Shargel explained that “Evidence of celebrity misdeeds has a significant fair market value. Evidence of misdeeds is routinely suppressed through private business arrangements.” Shargel said that Halderman just offered to sell his “very marketable story” to Letterman – and to keep it confidential was part of the deal. Shargel believes that his client did not commit extortion but merely participated in “a pure commercial transaction.”
So why is Halderman facing 15 years in the slammer, while Rachel is living it up in Palm Beach?
There are several reasons – and the devil is in the details. First, Uchitel lawyered-up before brokering her alleged deal, Halderman did not. Another distinguishing factor would be if Tiger was the one who initiated contact with Uchitel, and Tiger was the one who offered to pay for her silence. In Halderman’s case, he was the one who initiated contact by giving the Treatment to Letterman’s driver. However, the biggest distinguishing factor in both scenarios is that Letterman went to the police to report the blackmail plot and the DA got on board to set-up Halderman. However, in the alleged Woods/Uchitel deal, there was no complainant. Tiger did not go to the police to report an extortion or blackmail plot. He allegedly paid for silence, but Letterman did not. This may be because Tiger has much more to lose than Letterman. His image, which led to his personal endorsement income, is worth much more than $5 million.
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