Highmark CEO on unpaid leave after assault charges
Highmark CEO Kenneth Melani has been placed on unpaid leave after he was arrested and charged with assault and trespassing. After an emergency board meeting, the Pittsburgh-based insurer announced Thursday that Chairman J. Robert Baum will become the acting CEO, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The charges against Melani, which were filed Wednesday by police in Oakmont, Pa., stem from a fight Sunday with his alleged mistress's husband. Oakmont police responded to a 911 call to find Melani and Mark Myler, the husband of a Highmark employee who is allegedly having an affair with Melani, engaged in a verbal argument, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
Highmark spokesman Michael Weinstein called Melani's situation a "personal matter," adding that the insurer's "board of directors and senior leadership team remain committed to our mission, business strategies and the communities we serve, and the company continues to move forward with day-to-day operations."
Despite the personal nature of Melani's legal troubles, they are sure to unfold publicly. Though, it doesn't seem that Highmark will falter because of the drama. Baum made it clear that Melani is "not at all" permanently ousted as Highmark CEO, adding that the board is confident Highmark will continue moving forward. "We love Ken and he's a great strategy guy," Baum told the Tribune-Review. "I feel pretty confident about our strategy. We all believe in it."
Insurance experts echoed support for Highmark and Melani. "Overall, it's his vision of what he wanted Highmark to be and what he wants the West Penn Allegheny integrated system to look like, so I would say he's extremely important," Jim McTiernan, a principal at employee benefits firm Triad USA, told KDKA. But, he added, Highmark's "basic infrastructure is in place. The vision is there. I don't think it will really impact it, one way or the other."
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