Significant development in the Letterman/Halderman business today, and if you're not aware - Robert Halderman's lawyer claimed in court papers that his client's actions weren't any different from Rachel Uchitel's with regards Tiger Woods.

 Translation: Woods paid off Uchitel to be quiet, and Halderman was offering Letterman pretty much the same deal.

 Quoth Gerald Shargel, "Evidence of celebrity misdeeds has a significant fair market value... Evidence of such misdeeds is routinely suppressed through private business arrangement."

 Not being a lawyer, and all, citing Uchitel seems a dramatic stretch to me.

 Here's why:

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 * Uchitel didn't leave a package in T Woods' car seat, citing incriminating evidence, including photos, and diary entries, etc.

 * Uchitel didn't suggest a one-page screen treatment of their relationship, that could or could not be turned into a movie (almost certainly a very bad movie, but that's my own surmisal.)

* Uchitel did not then hold three meetings with Woods' lawyers - all taped - whereby she spoke of this screen treatment, and the possibility of a book too.

* Uchitel was not taped by said lawyers, saying stuff like she knew of numerous other affairs, and by heavens, when these affairs came out in the book or movie, then Tiger's golf career would be pretty much over.

* Uchitel then did not take an obviously phony check and try to deposit it in a Connecticut bank branch.

  Am I missing anything here? Sure, but no need to spell it out either.

  This is all looking very very bad for Halderman. The Post on Monday reported that Shargel - who denied - was shopping a plea bargain that would get his client off with just a year upstate. Shargel denied, but I can't imagine the Post got it wrong.

 This latest Uchitel gambit feels desperate.

 The judge will meet with Halderman on Jan. 19. It's almost a dead certainty Judge Solomon will set a trial date at that time. My hunch: Halderman, even more than Letterman, wants to avoid that now.

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  Again, I'd put my money on some sort of plea bargain in the new year.