Robert Joe Halderman is the television producer at the center of a bizarre plot to extort millions of dollars from American television icon David Letterman.
News of Halderman’s arrest has shocked friends, family and former colleagues of the veteran producer of 48 Hours who also worked on the Winter Olympics and the acclaimed 2006 documentary Three Days In September which was narrated by Oscar winner Julia Roberts.
It’s understood that the A-lister grew to admire and like Halderman while working with him on the documentary about the September 1, 2004 assault by Chechan terrorists on a school in Beslan where 1200 parents and teachers were held hostage.
And Halderman also regularly worked with Dan Rather as a CBS News producer on the old morning show and later with Evening News with Dan Rather.
In fact he was so highly regarded by the network that he was shipped to London where he reported on various hotspots from around the world.
One television insider revealed: “He was a very successful breaking news presenter, and well liked by most people he worked with.
“He was very driven, very smart – he was a guy who could be dropped into a war zone and navigate the dangers, get the facts and get the story together.”
In fact Halderman once told colleagues that when he was once detained in Bosnia his translator later told him that the soldiers detaining his party had debated whether to ‘kill the journalists’.
It’s understood that Halderman met Stephanie Birkitt while working on 48 Hours before she switched to go and work for David Letterman.
Birkitt – who recently passed New York Bar exams – reportedly broke off heir relationship leaving the producer shell-shocked.
The divorced producer owns a house in Norwalk, Connecticut, an old seaport and factory town and his neighbors are in a state of shock about the latest developments.
One told Radar Online.com today: “Robert is a very busy guy who was always going places and couldn’t always come to our residents meetings.
“But he was always very civil and waved at you in his car if you saw him passing – we did see him with a younger woman at the house from time to time.
“Everybody is shocked at these latest developments because you wouldn’t expect him to get involved in something like this.”
And his former father-in-law Mark Montet is also surprised at these latest turn of events involving the acclaimed producer.
He said: “We are shocked about what has happened but I don’t want to talk too much about him or my daughter at this time.
“Of course I did get to know him but I would rather not say too much at this time or speak about my daughter either.”
Halderman – who won many awards for his work for CBS – is expected to be arraigned today.