Health insurer's CEO faces charges after fight with husband of mistress
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Vida Chieffo was headed to the grocery store Sunday when she heard a startling shouting match on her neighbor's porch in Oakmont.
Two men she didn't immediately recognize were "screaming and yelling. Then one pushed the other into the door," Ms. Chieffo said. "He must have pushed him really hard because when he came up, he was holding his face."
Ms. Chieffo, 69, didn't think much of the confrontation until Thursday, when she learned that Kenneth R. Melani, 58, CEO of Highmark Inc., had been charged with assault and defiant trespass stemming from the fistfight. The man police accuse Dr. Melani of punching is Mark Myler -- the husband of Dr. Melani's mistress, whom he had hired to work at Highmark three weeks before the affair began.
Dr. Melani, who joined the medical insurer in 1989 as its chief medical officer and became its CEO in 2003, is taking an unpaid leave of absence in light of the charges filed Wednesday, Highmark spokesman Michael Weinstein said in a statement, adding that "the situation related to Dr. Melani is a personal matter."
Melissa Myler, 28, told Oakmont police her affair with Dr. Melani began shortly after she was hired in October 2011. In January, Dr. Melani's wife of 19 years, Tracy, discovered their tryst and told Mr. Myler. That prompted Mrs. Myler to move out of their home on Oakmont's Canterbury Court and into a luxury apartment with Dr. Melani at The Docks, a sprawling complex on the edge of the Allegheny River in O'Hara.
On Sunday, though, Mrs. Myler said she returned to Canterbury Court to speak to her husband when Dr. Melani showed up uninvited and accused her of cheating on him, saying, "It's all about my money," Oakmont Officer David Brankley wrote in a criminal complaint.
Mr. Myler repeatedly told Dr. Melani to leave, then took him by the arm and moved him to the front porch where "a fight broke out," police said. Who threw the first punch was unclear.
Ms. Chieffo said she remembered hearing Mr. Myler shout, "she was the one pursuing me!"
Officers found both men with "some swelling about the face and also some minor bleeding," Officer Brankley said. Dr. Melani agreed to have paramedics respond, because, he told the officer, "it would be a good idea if he was going to sue."
Mr. Myler, 49, who had cuts on his face and legs, was not charged.
After the scuffle, police said, an officer overheard Dr. Melani making phone calls to attorneys in which he said "something to the effect that if police hadn't been there he would have killed the Mylers."
Defense attorney Robert Del Greco said he had reviewed the case only superficially and could not comment on its specifics. He said the charges are low-grade misdemeanors and he is confident his client will prevail. "I have a qualified optimism that there will be a favorable resolution and outcome for the doctor," Mr. Del Greco said.
Mrs. Myler told police she and her husband had a "social relationship" with Dr. Melani for a couple of years; they golfed together and went to sporting events. He grew attracted to her.
But the criminal complaint offers glimpses into what appears to be a tumultuous affair.
Mrs. Myler discovered after living with Dr. Melani for two months that he had hired a private detective to investigate her. A dispute ensued that "led to the relationship becoming known throughout [Highmark], and she knew once it became known that there would be problems," she told Officer Brankley.
Mrs. Myler said she chose to retain an attorney to assist with her expected exit from the company. Mr. Weinstein would not say how Mrs. Myler was employed and had no comment on whether the private investigation was paid for by the company or Dr. Melani.
After the fight, officers said, Dr. Melani would not make eye-contact with them, focusing instead on Mrs. Myler standing 75 feet away. He told police "the whole thing was about his money" and he "made reference to the fact that Mrs. Myler has a past that he was just finding out about from his private investigator," Officer Brankley wrote. "He asked me in an emotional voice if I had ever had a relationship that was everything to me, and I declined to discuss that with him."
In her husband's presence, Dr. Melani called Mrs. Myler a "slut" and accused her of "a conspiracy." Police said he had made threats to Mrs. Myler in the past.
Still, Mrs. Myler told officers she had no plans to reconcile with her husband nor did she plan to break things off with the doctor.
Mrs. Myler, a graduate of Knoch High School and Slippery Rock University, was the operations manager for the Mylan Classic golf championship at Southpointe Golf Club in 2010. She worked for Washington County Economic Development Inc. at that time. The Mylers married three years ago. Neighbors said they had seen her recently, and the two had been spotted seen out to dinner.
"We're shocked," said Lisa Rusak, who described the couple as kind and quiet neighbors. "None of us knew this was going on."
Mrs. Melani could not be reached for comment. No one answered the door at Dr. Melani's apartment or at Mr. Myler's home.
First Published March 30, 2012 12:00 am