It was inevitable.
Larry Mendte is history.
CBS 3 announced in a terse statement read over the air last night that Mendte "has been released from his contract, effective immediately."
"The decision to terminate Mendte's employment was based on an independent investigation conducted by CBS," the statement said.
Mendte, 51, who had been co-anchor of CBS 3's "Eyewitness News" at 6 and 11 p.m. since September 2003, was suspended May 29 after the FBI seized his home and office computers and started an investigation into accusations that he had snooped into private e-mails of his former KYW-TV co-anchor Alycia Lane.
Mendte's career in Philadelphia was apparently doomed at that point. Insiders noted that the accusations deprived him of credibility, a vital ingredient for someone entrusted with delivering news to the public.
Michael A. Schwartz, Mendte's lawyer, had this to say about the firing: "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."
Mendte, a multi-Emmy winner who sent KYW-TV's ratings to new heights when he took the main anchor chair there in 2003, has made no comment.
However, Alycia Lane has not been silent. In a lawsuit filed last week in Common Pleas Court against KYW-TV, the station's general manager and two unnamed employees for defamation, slander and libel, Mendte comes in for considerable criticism, although he is not named as a defendant.
Lane, 36, was fired last January as the result of a confrontation with New York City police in which she was charged with assaulting a cop and making a gay slur. The charges were later dropped.
In her lawsuit, Lane states that Mendte was "obsessively jealous" of her, going back to 2004, and saw her popularity as "a threat to his position," especially when she was offered a higher salary.
She says he joked about her private life on a CBS-owned radio station with its former DJ Kidd Chris.
Mendte, born and raised in Lansdowne, has worked in television news around the country, has been a stand-up comedian, acted in films and produced documentaries.
He returned to Philadelphia in 1997 and became the main anchor of WCAU Channel 10's newscasts and hosted a public-affairs program.
He has received 70 regional Emmy Awards from New York, San Diego, Chicago and Philadelphia. In Philadelphia, he won four Emmys in the Outstanding Anchor category.
Mendte also has been active in promoting charities in the region.
He is married to Dawn Stensland, the 10 p.m. news anchor at Channel 29. They have two children, and he has two adult children from a previous marriage.
Staff writer Dan Gross contributed to this report.