Beacon Mutual CEO, Underwriting VP Suspended Following Audit

April 16, 2006

The board of directors at Beacon Mutual Insurance Co. suspended two executives with pay Friday following an audit report alleging that Beacon, the state’s dominant worker’s compensation insurance provider, improperly gave price breaks to certain companies.

Beacon President and CEO Joseph Solomon and David Clark, the vice president of underwriting, are suspended until the board meets again Wednesday, Beacon spokesman Bill Fischer said.

Clifford Parent, the vice president of claims, will take over as interim president, Fischer said.

Solomon doesn’t have a listed phone number and couldn’t be reached for comment. A message left with Clark wasn’t immediately returned.

One board member, Edward Braks, resigned Friday morning and didn’t participate in the board’s discussions, Fischer said. He didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

The suspensions came after a nine-hour, closed-door meeting where the board discussed a report issued by a committee headed by former Gov. Lincoln Almond. Beacon had commissioned the report.

Almond’s committee found that Beacon Mutual gave certain companies preferential rates on worker’s compensation policies, including a firm owned by Beacon’s former board chairman, Sheldon Sollosy. Sollosy declined to comment on the report earlier this week.

Almond’s committee also found what it called inappropriate relationships between Beacon and a group of insurance agents and their clients.

The report recommended that Beacon hire an independent insurance expert and an ethics officer to devise a code of conduct and a conflicts-of-interest policy. Beacon board members have agreed “in principle” to implement all the recommendations in the report, Fishcher said.

Gov. Don Carcieri has demanded that the Beacon board fire Solomon and Clark. The governor said he also wants some board members to resign. His spokesman said he was unimpressed by Friday’s suspensions.

“The governor does not believe that these acts are sufficient to create the leadership change at Beacon Mutual that is necessary in the wake of Wednesday’s blistering report,” said Carcieri spokesman Jeff Neal.

Brendan Doherty, a board member recently appointed by Carcieri, said the board has decided to meet Wednesday with auditors. Afterward, the board could reconsider the suspensions of Solomon and Clark, he said.

Beacon Mutual is a nonprofit independent corporation created by the state in 1991 to provide workers’ compensation insurance to employers. It controls more than 90 percent of the state’s worker’s compensation insurance market.

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