Highmark CEO fired; Kenneth Melani charged in fight with girlfriend's husband

PITTSBURGH — Highmark announced Sunday that CEO Kenneth Melani was fired in the wake of a scandal involving an alleged extramarital affair between the insurer's longtime leader and a 28-year-old co-worker, as well as allegations that he assaulted the woman’s husband.

Video: Highmark CEO fired over scandal

Melani, 58, was arraigned Thursday on charges that he assaulted the husband of his alleged mistress, Melissa Myler.

"The board has reviewed this situation thoroughly and has taken decisive action to address the matter," J. Robert Baum, Highmark's board chair and acting CEO, said in a statement. "For 75 years, Highmark has served this community with integrity and is committed to maintaining the highest standards. We have dedicated, hard-working employees and I know they take great pride in working for Highmark. Our mission of providing quality, affordable health care has never been more important, and I'm looking forward to working with our employees and senior management team in addressing the many challenges and opportunities that lie ahead."

According to Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE, Highmark's board of directors met Sunday morning and made the decision to terminate Melani.

"Whether or not it's a morals clause, whether or not it's a reputational matter, I just can't say. None of the details have been shared with either myself or Dr. Melani," said Melani's attorney, Robert Del Greco.

Channel 11’s Alan Jennings tried to talk to the alleged victim, Mark Myler, Monday, but Myler only declined to comment.

“Thank you, but I have nothing to say,” Myler said.

Myler, 48, filed assault charges against Melani last week, following their encounter. A neighbor who wanted to remain anonymous said the brawl took place in front of Myler’s Canterbury Court home.

“I just saw the two men running across the street chasing each other, and when they got toward the house, one pushed the other into the door,” the neighbor said. “I heard one of them say, ‘She pursued me, I didn’t pursue her.’ That’s the only thing I heard distinctly.”

The neighbor also said Melissa Myler tried to intervene as her husband and Melani allegedly exchanged punches.

“She was trying to separate them,” the neighbor said. “She was just yelling at them to stop.”

Last week, the board placed Melani on unpaid administrative leave. Melani, who had been Highmark's CEO since January 2003, was paid $4.35 million last year, according to state insurance department filings.

Baum said the insurer's board is "moving forward to identify a long-term successor to the CEO position." He has expressed confidence the insurer will move forward with plans to acquire struggling West Penn Allegheny Health System.

Del Greco released the following statement Sunday on behalf of Melani, “Dr. Melani has dedicated 22 years of his life to Highmark. During the nine years he served as President and CEO, Highmark grew to become one of the most respected and successful healthcare organizations in the nation. Dr. Melani is deeply disappointed and upset by the action of the Board. We will be reviewing the legal propriety of Dr. Melani's dismissal and will act accordingly.”

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