TV anchor rivalry leads to felony charge

A former Philadelphia news anchor was charged on Monday after hacking into the email account of his co-anchor hundreds of times over a period of over two years.

U.S. federal prosecutors have charged Larry Mendte, 51, with a felony count of intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization.

Mendte co-anchored the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts with Alycia Lane, 36, on CBS affiliate KYW-TV for four years.

Prosecutors say Mendte accessed Lane's private email accounts from home and at work and leaked her personal information to a reporter.

The FBI searched Mendte's home and his computer was seized on May 29. He was immediately suspended with pay on the day of the search and was eventually fired on June 23 from KYW-TV.

Lane's attorney alleges Mendte was motivated by jealousy after learning the younger, rising star received a contract in 2005 worth $100,000 a year more than he earned.

Lane's attorney also alleges that Mendte was the source for two damaging gossip items, including a 2007 article disclosing that Lane had emailed photos of herself in a bikini to married NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen, and later, another item that revealed a scuffle between Lane and a New York police officer lead to charges.

Lane was fired in January 2008 after news of the criminal charges became public. The station claimed that the incident made it "impossible for Alycia to continue to report the news as she, herself, has become the focus of so many news stories."

Lane has filed a lawsuit against the station and Mendte.

As for Lane's charges in New York, they were downgraded in February from a felony, and a judge agreed to dropped the charges all together in August as long as she is not arrested again.

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About Robert J. Ballantyne

Robert J.Ballantyne is a senior editor at Popjournalism and Creative Director at Artsculture.ca. Previously, he was a journalist at the CBC on a number of news programs including the fifth estate, Marketplace and The National. He also worked as a staff writer at the Toronto Star.

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