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Troublesome Liaisons of the Business World

Troublesome Liaisons of the Business World
Bobby Bank | WireImage | Getty Images

After former Gen. David Petraeus resigned as director of the CIA in the wake of an extramarital affair, he said in a statementthat he had shown "extremely poor judgment."

Petraeus is hardly the first high-profile person to engage in such behavior. He's in dubious company among a number of corporate leaders who have recently been caught in compromising circumstances.

The world of business has been the source of numerous powerful and highly placed individuals who put their marriages, careers and good standing at risk – all for an extramarital dalliance. CNBC.com presents a list of powerful figures from the world of business who went outside of their marriages to seek romance, physical gratification or simple companionship.

In some cases, these people found their next spouses. In others, they found nothing but the end of a promising career and a multimillion-dollar golden parachute. Read ahead to see who they are.

By Daniel Bukszpan
Posted 15 Nov. 2012

Chris Kubasik
AP

On Nov. 9 — the same day Petraeus resigned — Lockheed Martin president and chief operating officer Chris Kubasik offered his resignation at the request of the company's board of directors. This happened just two months before he was to assume a new role as CEO.

According to the company's website, the married executive had been involved in "a close personal relationship with a subordinate employee," actions which "violated the company's Code of Ethics and Business Conduct."

Mary Cunningham
Creative Commons

Mary Cunningham became the executive assistant to Bendix Corporation CEO William Agee when she was fresh out of Harvard Business School. Both parties separated from their spousessoon after, and she was quickly promoted to vice president of strategic planning.

In 1980, Cunningham resigned her position. Two years later, she and Agee married, and in 1984 she published a tell-all bookcalled "Powerplay: What Really Happened at Bendix," in which she wrote that they became romantically involved only after she had left the company, despite speculation to the contrary.

Brian Dunn
Denis Doyle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Brian Dunn was CEO of the consumer electronics company Best Buy. He began his tenure in 1985, working his way up to the highest rung on the ladder. He resigned in April due to what the company's board attributed to Dunn's "personal conduct."

According to their audit committee, Dunn had "violated company policy by engaging in an extremely close personal relationship with a female employee." Dunn, who was married at the time, received a severance package of over $6.6 millionin exchange for stepping down.

Mark Hurd
Mark Hurd: Justin Sullivan | Getty Images; Jodie Fisher: Denise Truscello | WireImage | Getty Images

Mark Hurd is the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. The New York Timescharacterizedhis tenure there as "one of the great rescue missions in American corporate history, refocusing the strife-ridden company and leading it to five years of revenue gains and a stock that soared 130 percent."

Still, Hurd was forced to resign in 2010. A sexual harassment probe found that he had violated company standards by as part of an effort to conceal a personal relationship with HP marketing consultant Jodie Fisher. The investigators found that the married CEO had not harassed her, but had paid her up to $10,000 per eventto accompany him to business functions.

Joe Rogers Jr.
Joe Rogers Jr: Terry College of Business; Waffle House: Jim Stratford | Bloomberg via Getty Images

A personal assistant accused Waffle House chairman Joe Rogers Jr. in September of making unwanted sexual advances.

According to police, she resigned in June in a letter she left in his sock drawer, "in an effort to spare Rogers' wife from pain and humiliation."

According to an Associated Press report, Rogers received a letter from his accuser's attorney that the head of the restaurant chain said contained "false allegations and strong threats." In the letter, he said, "she now wants millions of dollars from me." Rogers has since countersued, claiming that what transpired with his accuser was a consensual affair.

"I am a victim of my own stupidity, but I am not going to be a victim of a crime — extortion," Rogers saidin a statement.

Julie Roehm
juliearoehm.com

Julie Roehm was senior vice president of marketing communications for Wal-Mart. She was hired in 2006 to infuse the brand's image with hip modernity, and according to her website, she "completely redirected and refined Wal-Mart's marketing approach to project and reflect new corporate direction." She was dismissed after just 10 months.

According to The New York Times,Wal-Mart allegedthat she had accepted gifts from companies wishing to become the retailer's ad agency. Roehm sued Wal-Mart for breach of contract, but the retailer countersued and cited an alleged relationshipwith a subordinate named Sean Womack. Roehm and Womack have denied the allegation. Both claims were dropped in November 2007.

Harry Stonecipher
Pierre Verdy | AFP | Getty Images

Under the leadership of Harry Stonecipher, Boeing recovered from financial scandals that had tarnished its reputation, helping to renew its ability to bid on Pentagon projects and more than doublingits share price.

But in 2005, Stonecipher resigned in the wake of revelations that he had been involved in a relationship with a fellow executive.His wife of 50 years, Joan, filed for divorceshortly thereafter.

Donald Trump
Ron Galella | WireImage | Getty Images

Real estate magnate Donald Trump is nearly as well-known for his marital woes as he is for his business acumen. He was first married to Ivana Trump, a Czechoslovakian-born model and socialite, but their union fell apart when "The Donald" became involvedwith actress and socialite Marla Maples. The outspoken real estate mogul married Maples in 1993 but divorced her about six years later.

Trump's divorce from Ivana became the stuff of legend when she challenged their prenuptial agreement, which her lawyer describedas ''unconscionable and fraudulent.'' Although the case was eventually resolved in 1992, records remain sealed, the final settlement has never been disclosed.

Kenneth Melani
Bradley C. Bower | Bloomberg via Getty Images

In April, Kenneth Melani was fired as president and CEO of Highmark, a not-for-profit Pittsburgh health care company, after being accused of misdemeanor assault and trespassing charges.

At the time, Melani was having an affair with co-worker Melissa Myler. As it turned out, the man he was charged with assaulting was Myler's husband. According to police, she had gone to the home she had shared with her spouse to speak to him, only to have the Highmark CEO make a surprise appearance.

The situation turned volatile after Melani's wife also appeared on the scene, with police having difficulty gaining control over the situation. He was fireda few days later.

Jack Welch
Getty Images

Jack Welch was chairman and CEO of General Electric from 1981 to 2001, and during that time he led the company to some of its greatest successes. However, he received a shower of negative attention for his extramarital affairwith business journalist Suzy Wetlaufer.

Wetlaufer eventually went on to become Welch's third wife, but extricating himself from his marriage to second wife Jane Beasley couldn't have been cheap. Although full details of the final reckoning were not disclosed, Beasley had turned downan initial offer of $130 million to settle out of court. The couple finally settled four days before the case was set to go to trial.

(General Electric is the minority owner of NBC Universal, the parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.)