Pinnacol CEO forced to resign but will be paid $230,000 CALL7 investigators learned

Pinnacol CEO terminated, paid eight months salary

DENVER - Outgoing Pinnacol CEO Ken Ross will be paid more than $230,000 on his way out of the company despite being allowed to resign in lieu of being terminated without cause, documents obtained by the CALL7 Investigators show.

Ross’s contract requires the company to give him 60 days notice if he is terminated without cause and then to pay him for an additional six months, the contract shows. At a monthly salary of $28,904 a month, Pinnacol will pay Ross $231,232 after he resigned Monday.

Ross was the focus of a series of CALL7 Investigations that showed lavish spending at the company on agent retreats that also included board members, appointed by the Colorado governor. The stories raised questions about whether the board members could supervise management when taking thousands of dollars in travel and gifts from Ross and his staff.

All of the board members who attended the outings are no longer serving on the Pinnacol board.

At a retreat at Pebble Beach in 2008, CALL7 Investigators confronted board members on the spending and Ross stepped in threatening former CALL7 Investigator Tony Kovaleski. For those actions, the board docked him his $163,000 bonus.

According to a source with knowledge of Ross’s dismissal, Ross was not awarded a bonus for last year’s work, which would have been about the same amount as Pinnacol is contractually obligated to pay him after his resignation.

While Ross resigned, documents show he had no choice but to leave his job, which he held since 2005.

“I write this letter to inform you that the Board has decided today to terminate your employment without cause,” the Pinnacol board chairman Blair Richardson wrote. “Please let me know if you would prefer to resign in lieu of termination by Pinnacol Assurance without cause.”

Until March 15, the letter said Ross is required to stay away from Pinnacol's offices without the written consent of the board.

A news release on Monday said with changes in the industry, the quasi-state agency, needed new leadership. Pinnacol is the state’s top worker’s compensation provider.

Ross wrote the board that he would resign: “It is with heavy heart, but firm resolve that I feel it is time for me to pursue new and different challenges.”

Pinnacol signed a three-month contract with the board’s vice chairman, John Plotkin, to act as interim CEO. Plotkin, who will lead the search for a new CEO, will receive $25,000 consulting fee to run the company through April 30.

Ross could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.