November 10, 2009
Posted: 04:59 PM ET
Robert Joel Halderman was simply trying to sell a story, not extort money, when he delivered a one-page screenplay proposal and other evidence to David Letterman in September about Mr. Letterman’s affairs with women who worked for him, according to Gerald L. Shargel, Mr. Halderman’s lawyer.
Mr. Shargel began telling Mr. Halderman’s side of the story in earnest Tuesday as he filed motions in State Supreme Court in Manhattan to have the attempted grand larceny charge against his client dismissed.
“This was a commercial transaction,” Mr. Shargel said outside the Lower Manhattan courthouse surrounded by a horde of cameras and reporters. “It was nothing more.”
But at the same time, according to the motion, Mr. Shargel appears to be trying to make Mr. Letterman a focus of the proceedings, suggesting that his office was rife with sexual misconduct — a claim heatedly denied by Mr. Letterman’s lawyer.
At the heart of the defense argument is that Mr. Halderman’s only intention was to write a book or a screenplay about Mr. Letterman’s affairs. But before going forward with the project, Mr. Halderman offered to sell Mr. Letterman the rights to the story for $2 million, according to the motion. Purchasing it would have allowed Mr. Letterman to keep the story quiet.
What Mr. Halderman did was legal because the information he possessed had its own independent value – meaning that, even without going to Mr. Letterman first, a third party, such as a book publisher or movie producer, would have paid for it, according to the motion.
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