A Philadelphia TV news anchor pleaded guilty today to breaking into his co-anchor's e-mail accounts more than 500 times and feeding information he found there to a local newspaper.
Lawrence Mendte, 51, of Philadelphia, made the guilty plea to one felony count of intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization and obtaining information in furtherance of a tortuous act, according to the US Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Mendte, once a popular news anchor at CBS affiliate KYW-TV, secretly accessed one work e-mail account and two personal accounts of co-anchor Alycia Lane between March 2006 and May 2008.
Mendte faces a maximum of five years in prison.
Mendte used his computers at work, at his home and one at his vacation home, to break into the accounts. According to the Department of Justice, Mendte accessed Lane's personal e-mail accounts about 537 times between Jan. 1 and May 26.
Mendte was released from his contract in June following an independent investigation by CBS, according to a story on the KYW Web site.
Lane was let go from the news station in January, according to the Philadelphia Daily News .
The government's Information Document contends that Mendte accessed private communications between Lane and her friends, her attorney and some e-mails between Lane and a friend's wife. Some of the e-mails that were accessed held attorney-client privileged information pertaining to civil and criminal litigation in which Lane was involved.
On several occasions, Mendte shared private and legal information obtained from the stolen e-mail documents with a reporter from the Philadelphia Daily News.