For those of you who've been dying to know, former TV anchor Larry Mendte and co-anchor Alycia Lane "kissed approximately four or five times" about once every three weeks, but the relationship "never got to the point of touching bodies," according to court documents.
The smooching details come from excerpts of an interview Alycia had with the FBI, according to Mendte's attorney, Julia Morrow. Morrow is using the information to support a claim that Mendte should never have been charged with a felony.
How does admission of a few "kisses" here and there and an $800 Tiffany's necklace lead to a lesser charge for hacking into Lane's email and leaking information to the media?
Here's the case Morrow makes in a court petition filed Wednesday: She argues that federal investigators originally promised Mendte he would only face a misdemeanor charge. That promise, she says, came in a "proffer" conversation where immunity or agreements can be made in exchange for admissions of wrongdoing (even though Mendte testified that there were no promises attached, according to an article in the Daily News).
Two weeks later, Mendte was informed by the feds he would face federal charges, according to Morrow. During that time, she says the feds learned that Alycia Lane had changed her story about the nature of her relationship with Mendte. That, Morrow says, should have led them to question the credibility of their key witness.
In Mendte's petition, excerpts from an intial interview Lane had with the FBI say she "brushed off what she interpreted to be sexual overtones by Mendte and the two never had anything other than a professional relationship. Lane believes that Mendte had a crush on her when they first met in 2003."
In a later interview with the same FBI agents, according to Morrow, Lane characterized the relationship differently: "The relationship between Lane and Mendte was very close when the two anchors first started working at CBS/KYW and they maintained their relationship within work hours. Lane felt alone and vulnerable during this time due to personal circumstances and Mendte provided support to her and was a confidant. Lane and Mendte would often go to dinner between the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. news broadcasts and spent a lot of time together at the CBS/KYW office. Around the December 2003 time period, the relationship started to become affectionate. Around this time, Mendte bought Lane a platinum necklace from Tiffany's, which cost approximately $800. At a later time, Mendte's wife Dawn, found the receipt for the Tiffany's necklace and told Mendte he was getting to close to Lane. From December 2003, to approximately March 2004, Lane and Mendte had kissed approximately four to five times with a regularity of approximately once every three weeks; the relationship never got to the point of touching bodies."
"Whatever happened years ago is no excuse for his crimes," Lane's attorney, Paul Rosen, told the Daily News. "It's sad that he keeps doing this to poor Dawn," said Rosen. Dawn Stensland is the main anchor over at Fox 29 and Larry's wife.
"He cannot get rid of his obsession with Alycia. He is so starved for publicity," said Rosen.
Morrow called Rosen's comments utterly transparent and endless.
"Despite his client's admission in the June 11, 2008 statement to the FBI that she and Mendte were affectionate, that they kissed, and that she received an $800 Tiffany necklace from him, Rosen told a Philly Mag reporter in January of 2009 that 'As early as 2003, Mendte made unwanted and inappropriate overtures to Alycia that were rejected, yet he continued to offer gifts even though she had no interest in him, his gifts or his company….' Now, in today's Daily News article, he issues a tacit admission of the relationship, but attempts to downplay it by saying, 'whatever happened years ago is no excuse for his crimes.'"
"If all that Mendte had done was look at Ms. Lane's e-mail, as creepy as that would be, it would be a misdemeanor," wrote U.S. Attorney Michael Levy. "It is the publication of private and privileged information, coupled with a malicious purpose, that converts this case to a felony in my view," said Levy.
Both Lane and Mendte ended up losing their jobs. Both have filed lawsuits. Mendte sued the Inky and one of its gossip columnists. Lane sued Mendte, CBS3 and the Daily News' gossip columnist.
Mendte was sentenced to six months of house arrest and probation. His monitor came off this month.