Lead anchor Larry Mendte is under investigation by the FBI over allegedly reading personal e-mails of his former colleague Alycia Lane without her permission., the Inquirer reported last night. This comes just five months after Lane was fired by the station after being arrested in New York and charged with hitting a female police officer for which she was later cleared and her case remains in a prolonged period of dismissal.
“On Thursday federal investigators approached Larry Mendte as a result of claims made by Alycia Lane. Larry’s cooperating fully with the investigators and hopes to promptly reach a resolution of this matter,” said Mendte’s attorney Michael A. Schwartz.
Schwartz said that on Thursday afternoon FBI showed up at Mendte's Chestnut Hill home where he lives with wife Dawn Stensland, a Fox 29 anchor, and took “computer related materials,” and couldn’t elaborate as to how he was aware the complaints came from Lane. Lane’s attorney Paul Rosen told the Inquirer his client didn’t make any claims and the feds are acting on their own. Rosen did not return our request for comment last night. Mendte did not return a voicemail message left on his cell phone last night. Schwartz was not sure when Mendte may be back on the air at CBS 3. “Late this week CBS 3 became aware of an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding anchor Larry Mendte,” a station spokeswoman said in a statement. “CBS3 is cooperating fully with that office in this investigation.” Mendte arrived for work Friday, but did not appear on the 6 or 11 p.m. newscasts.
Schwartz, of the Pepper Hamilton firm, was retained Thursday by Mendte. He knows both sides of this fence, having previously worked for 14 years at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia, leaving for private practice in February.
It is unclear when or for how long the alleged cyber-snooping took place as well as what kinds of e-mails may have been compromised.
6ABC’s Rob Jennings anchored a report of Mendte being a target of an FBI investigation during Saturday night’s 11 o’clock news. Typically TV stations don't cover each other but several stations did air reports on Lane's arrest. One former law enforcement source said that in computer-access case, so long as there is not financial impropriety, such as using the victim's personal info for fraud, the punishment is generally not severe.