Gerald Shargel has another high-profile client

By A. James Memmott

October 5, 2009 at 10:14am

Gerald L. Shargel continues to get work.

Last December, Muckety wrote that Shargel, the former lawyer for mob boss John J. Gotti Jr., the Dapper Don, had gone white collar, representing Marc S. Dreier.

Dreier, a lawyer, was accused, among many other things, of impersonating another lawyer.

Dreier’s in federal prison now serving a 20-year sentence, but Shargel remains a go-to guy for people accused of high-profile crimes.

His latest client is Robert Joel “Joe” Halderman, a producer of CBS News’ 48 Hours Mystery, who is accused of trying to extort $2 million from David Letterman, the late night television star.

“This story is far more complicated than what you heard this afternoon,” Shargel told reporters after Halderman pleaded not guilty to a grand larceny charge on Friday. “There is another side to the story.”

So far, Letterman’s version of the story - told in an extraordinary 10-minute monologue on the Late Show Thursday - has dominated the news.

The comedian told viewers that Halderman had said he would reveal details about Letterman’s sexual relations with staffers if he did not pay the $2 million.

Reportedly, Halderman had been in a relationship with Stephanie Birkitt, who had been in an earlier relationship with Letterman when she was his personal assistant.

According to The New York Times, Letterman’s lawyer, Jim Jackoway, met three times with Halderman. At least one of these times, Jackoway was equipped with a hidden recording device.

At the third meeting, Jackoway gave Halderman a check for $2 million (it was a fake). Halderman deposited the check and was subsequently arrested.

All of these details paint a negative picture of Halderman, but having represented Gotti in the early 1990s, Shargel is used to clients who haven’t fared that well in the court of public opinion.

Tino Fiumara, a reputed high-ranking member of the Genovese crime family, has also been a Shargel client for years.

A 1969 graduate of Brooklyn Law School, Shargel is reportedly a perfectionist and insomniac, a man whose elegance and geniality sometimes seem in contrast with the reputations of some of his clients and the crimes they allegedly committed.

“Something happens to him when he is a courtroom,” Frederic Dannen wrote in a 1994 profile of Shargel in The New Yorker.

“Tall and graceful, he acts with his entire body, and makes a point of always moving around the floor. … When Shargel addresses a jury, his voice quakes with passion.”

In Halderman, Shargel has a client with solid professional credentials and no criminal record, points the attorney made in asking that bail be set at $100,000.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office argued that bail should be $500,000.

The judge set the figure at $200,000, which Halderman posted. His next court hearing is scheduled for Nov. 10.

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