CBS 3's Mendte embroiled in hacking scandal

June 2, 2008 5:38:50 PM PDT
The FBI raided the home of an evening news anchor after his fired co-anchor complained that someone might be hacking into her private e-mails and leaking them to the media, lawyers involved said Monday. Larry Mendte of KYW-TV, the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia, remains off-air following the FBI raid Thursday at his Philadelphia home, during which authorities removed a computer and computer-related equipment, according to his lawyer, Michael Schwartz.

Former co-anchor Alycia Lane, who was fired Jan. 7 after a series of embarrassing off-camera incidents, began to suspect this year that her private e-mails were being accessed and forwarded to news outlets that have covered her career and social life.

Her lawyer, Paul Rosen, said Lane did not identify any potential hacking suspects. But he noted Lane was earning $700,000 a year, somewhat more than Mendte, when she was fired.

"There had been some jealousy by him over her popularity and ratings," Rosen told the AP. "There was no question that she was rising faster than he was."

Schwartz declined to comment on the suggestion that jealousy was an issue. He said Mendte is cooperating with authorities and hopes for a quick resolution to both the investigation and his employment status.

"I am hopeful that he will resume his career in broadcasting," Schwartz told The Associated Press.

The station's Web site describes Mendte as a "target" of the FBI investigation, although Schwartz would neither confirm nor deny the report. Mendte has not received a letter stating he is a target, Schwartz said.

The twice-divorced Lane, dubbed "the Latina bombshell," was arrested in December in New York City after an alleged late-night scuffle with police, which ultimately led to her dismissal.

The e-mail interceptions allegedly took place while Lane was defending herself on the criminal charges and preparing to sue the station for wrongful termination, said Rosen, who represents her in both cases.

"Information from her e-mails seemed to be finding their way publicly into the press," said Rosen.

Lane, who joined the station from Miami in 2003, had been criticized after she tearfully discussed her divorce with "Dr. Phil" and amid published reports that she had e-mailed bikini shots of herself to a married ESPN sports anchor.

She had more than three years remaining on her contract when she was fired, Rosen said. The felony charges in New York have been dropped, and Rosen expects the remaining summary charges to be dropped and her record expunged in August.

Mendte, who is married to local Fox news anchor Dawn Stensland, joined the station in July 2003 from the local NBC affiliate. He previously co-hosted "Access Hollywood" and worked at Chicago's WBBM-TV, KFMB-TV in San Diego and WABC-TV in New York, according to his station biography.