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Charges against former Highmark CEO Melani withdrawn

| Wednesday, June 6, 2012, 9:37 a.m.
Jasmine Goldband
Attorney Bob Del Greco addresses the media after his client, former Highmark CEO Ken Melani, learned that charges including simple assault and trespassing against him were dropped Wednesday, June 6, 2012. Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Jasmine Goldband
Former Highmark CEO Ken Melani leaves the District Judge's office in Plum Wednesday, June 6, 2012. Charges including simple assault and trespassing against Melani were dropped after he completed anger management classes. Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review

Allegheny County prosecutors on Wednesday withdrew criminal charges against former Highmark CEO Ken Melani stemming from a fight with his mistress' husband.

The charges were withdrawn as part of an agreement that Melani, 58, complete anger management classes. His attorney, Robert Del Greco, said Melani had completed 16, one-hour classes.

Melani declined to comment as he entered and left District Judge Linda Zucco's Plum office.

During the brief hearing, Deputy District Attorney David Spurgeon wrote on the criminal complaint that charges of simple assault and defiant trespass would be withdrawn. Spurgeon told the judge that none of the parties involved objected to the withdrawal.

Zucco asked Melani about the anger management classes.

"It was good. It was actually good," Melani said.

"You learned something?" Zucco asked.

Melani said he did.

The hearing lasted less than 10 minutes.

Melani was charged with simple assault and defiant trespass when police said he fought with the husband of his mistress, Melissa Myler, 28, on March 25 at the Mylers' Oakmont home. Melissa Myler is a Highmark employee.

Highmark fired Melani, who was paid $4.35 million last year, in April and named Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr. as its CEO this week. Winkenwerder, 58, a private health-care consultant and former assistant secretary in the Department of Defense, will start in mid-July at the nonprofit Blue Cross Blue Shield company, which is located Downtown.

Del Greco said Melani was embarrassed by the incident.

"He wanted to challenge the charges but he followed the advice of his counsel," Del Greco said. "He embraced the anger management classes. He had always taken the position that he did not engage in a crime."

Del Greco said litigation involving Melani's job is still "dangling," but yesterday's hearing concluded the criminal matter. Melani continues to have a relationship with Myler but to what extent, Del Greco said, he couldn't say. He described it as "complicated."

"I know he cares for Melissa and wants to be a good father and a good citizen. It's a complicated matter," Del Greco said.

Attorney Sam Cordes, who represents Myler, said the dismissal of the charges doesn't affect her employment with Highmark.

"It has no effect whatsoever," Cordes said. "Work has been stressful, but we're adapting."

Cordes also represents Melani in employment matters and said the former CEO filed a claim against Highmark with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accusing the company of retaliation after he complained about discrimination against Myler.

Melani also is trying to work out a contact dispute with Highmark, Cordes said.

Highmark spokesman Michael Weinstein declined to comment on the contract issue.

"Regarding the retaliation charge, the only comment is that we received it, and we believe the allegations are baseless and without merit," Weinstein said.

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