Who Is David Letterman's Alleged Extortionist?

It boggles the mind that the man accused of hatching a bizarre scheme to blackmail David Letterman appears to be an experienced and talented television journalist. Here's what we know about Joe Halderman.

Halderman is a long-time producer for CBS News, going back at least to 1991. For at least the past eight years, he has been a staffer for 48 Hours, producing true-crime stories. He's reported from Serbia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Sudan, and won numerous awards. Per Newsday's Verne Gay:

He was a very successful breaking news producer, and well-liked by most people he worked with - "very driven, very smart," in the words of one. He was a hotdog - a guy who could be dropped into a war zone and navigate the dangers, get the facts, and get the story together. It's an essential skill that the person who can do it well is held in high esteem at any of the networks. It is also a dangerous job, and Halderman once spoke of being detained in Bosnia, and a translator late told him that the soldiers debated whether to "kill the journalists."

He wrote, produced, and directed Three Days in September, a highly praised feature-length documentary on the Beslan School Massacre that was narrated by Julia Roberts. It was nominated for a primetime Emmy.

He lives in Norwalk, Conn., in a house he purchased for $420,000 in 2004. It's unclear from public records available online what the mortgage on the house was, but according to the Norwalk Town Clerk's office, he appears to have taken out four mortgages since 2004—two from Coldwell Banker, one from Accubanc, and one from JPMorgan Chase. According to public records databases, the latter loan was a $50,000 line of credit he took out in February of last year.

Halderman and his wife Patricia Montet were divorced in 2003; the litigation lasted five years and concluded in May of last year, according to the court docket. It appears to have been a messy parting: The docket contains orders for participation in a "parenting education program" and one motion for contempt of court. The New York Post quotes Montet's father—Halderman's former father-in-law, saying Halderman "was fooling around with a lot of women." According to TMZ, the settlement agreement required Halderman to pay $6,800 in monthly child support, an amount that was later reduced to $6,000. In 2003, the couple's credit care bills totaled $13,500. They have two children, one 18 and one 11. The Post, citing unnamed sources, says Halderman's alleged scheme was a bid to raise money for the child support payments.

According to public records, Stephanie Birkitt, the Letterman assistant who reportedly had relationships with both Letterman and Halderman, lived at Halderman's Norwalk home starting in 2005.

Here is Halderman's public Facebook listing, where the above photo was taken from. He counts as Facebook friends a host of television news producers and personalities, including 48 Hours correspondent Peter Van Sant and Good Morning America senior executive producer Jim Murphy.