A Philadelphia TV newscaster was charged Monday with illegally accessing the e-mail of a his co-anchor and leaking it to gossip columnists.
Prosecutors accused Larry Mendte of intruding into his glamorous co-anchor's e-mail accounts hundreds of times over a two-year period.
Mendte and Alycia Lane co-anchored the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts for just over four years but were apparently rivals because Lane had a higher salary.
Lane was fired after her personal life, including an arrest in New York for assaulting a police officer, became tabloid fodder.
Federal prosecutors said Lane came to suspect that details of her life were being leaked to the Philadelphia Daily News.
Mendte was charged Monday with a felony count of intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization.
"The mere accessing and reading of privileged information is criminal," acting U.S. attorney Laurie Magid said. "This case, however, went well beyond just reading someone's e-mail."
Mendte's lawyer, Michael Schwartz, said his client has been co-operating with police on the investigation.
Mendte has been off the air since May 29, when police searched his home and seized a computer.
Lane was let go in January after a series of embarrassing off-camera incidents were recorded by the media. Charges were dropped in the assault case in New York.
She then sued the station, alleging it had damaged her reputation by deliberately promoting her personal life to generate publicity.
Lane also alleged sexual discrimination, saying Mendte should not have been kept on the payroll while he was being investigated for breaking into her e-mail.
The station has denied her allegations.
The station fired Mendte in June after Lane filed her lawsuit.