Alleged Letterman Extortionist's Lawyer Clams Up on TV

10/05/2009 at 08:05 AM EDT



While by now nearly everyone has heard David Letterman's side of the story – delivered in a 10-minute serio-comic Late Show monologue Thursday that seemed to come out of nowhere – not much has come from alleged extortionist Robert "Joe" Halderman, until now.

Not that much was made of the opportunity.

Appearing with Ann Curry on Monday's Today show, Halderman's attorney, Gerald L. Shargel, repeatedly promised that evidence would come out at trial that will exonerate his client, who is accused by New York prosecutors of trying to extort $2 million from the CBS host. But pressed for any information that might clear Halderman, Shargel offered nothing beyond further promises.


"You can't take at face value what the prosecutor has said," said Shargel, who disputed Curry's suggestion that he faced an uphill battle in the legal war. At one point Shargel, without further explanation, said, "The prosecutor's case … in so many ways makes no sense."

When Curry pointed out that his client had cashed a $2 million check and had been recorded on a detective's wire, Shargel's response was to say, "I've been at this a long time." He also talked up Halderman's 20-year career as a respected TV producer and mentioned the name of Dan Rather, though it was not clear how the former CBS News anchor is relevant to this case.

Still, Curry wanted information that might balance one's view of Halderman. Shargel instead criticized Letterman for being a "master manipulator of the media," prompting Curry to tell him, "I'm giving you access to media this morning and you are not giving your client's side of the story."


Shargel did say that he's only been on this case for four days, and he's still investigating it.

On his professional Web site, Shargel, a 1969 graduate of Brooklyn Law School, is described as "a member of the New York Bar since 1969 [who] limits his practice to the defense of serious criminal cases. Over the past several decades, Mr. Shargel has handled numerous high profile cases at both the trial and appellate level. Cases typically include a broad array of white collar and non-white collar crimes."

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