Media & Communications Law
News Anchor Fired Over Alleged E-Mail Snooping That Brought Down Co-Anchor
Posted Jun 24, 2008 11:06 AM CDT
By Martha Neil
Embarrassing publicity that resulted in the firing of one Philadelphia television news anchor has now brought down her co-anchor, too.
Larry Mendte, 51, has been fired by CBS3, not quite one month after FBI agents seized his home computer and not quite six months after the station fired his co-anchor, 36-year-old Alycia Lane, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Lane's earlier firing followed an altercation with New York City police and a mention in the New York Post's gossip column about Lane's reportedly being blasted in an e-mail from Suzy Shuster, the wife of cable sports anchor Rich Eisen, for sending Eisen photos of herself in a bikini. Mendte is now suspected of leaking information about Lane's private life after it was allegedly discovered that he had accessed Lane's private e-mail hundreds of times. CBS3 has discovered keystroke monitoring software on one of its computers, according to the Inquirer.
Lane is suing the station and unnamed co-workers for defamation in a lawsuit related to her termination. In the suit, she contends that Mendte was "obsessively jealous" of her, seeing her success—and higher pay—as a threat to his $700,000-a-year job, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.
As discussed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post, lawyers have been wondering why the alleged e-mail snooping warrants an FBI investigation, since the punishment for the crime, if it is proven, would likely involve no jail time.
However, "Lane used that compromised Yahoo account to send and receive messages to and from her lawyers," the Inquirer states today, relying on unnamed sources.
Yesterday's 6 p.m. news program at CBS3 included a statement read by anchor Susan Barnett. It said Mendte was "released" from his employment there effective immediately, and that he is being investigated by the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Inquirer reports.
Says Mendte's lawyer, Michael Schwartz: "We continue to work with the federal authorities and hope to reach a prompt resolution of this matter. I fully expect Larry to be able to continue with his broadcasting career," reports the Daily News.