OPP investigating former Petrolia CAO’s dealings

395 Fletcher St. - the building formerly owned by Petrolia's former CAO which the town is renting for storage

Heather Wright
The Independent ©

Lambton OPP are investigating former CAO Manny Baron’s dealings with the Town of Petrolia.
The Independent has confirmed through a number of sources the provincial police began the investigation shortly after Baron resigned in November.
In October, The Independent found Baron owned a numbered company which purchased 4168 Robert St. just days before it became the town’s youth and senior’s centre. Baron didn’t disclose he owned it, saying later he didn’t believe he had to because he was donating rent. Documents from the town show he was paid over $5,000 in utilities and first and last month rent.
Then, land registry documents showed Baron’s number company bought 395 Fletcher St. and rented it back to the town, again without disclosing he owned the property.
Later, when questioned by councillors in a public meeting, Baron told council developer Horst Ritcher owned the building even though Baron’s company had taken possession 11 days before.
The findings from The Independent’s investigation led council to suspend Baron and hire an investigator, John Fleming, to review what happened.
The same day Fleming delivered his report, Baron tendered his resignation. Council agreed to the terms of Baron’s separation, which he wrote himself.
Council has not released Fleming’s report, although Mayor John McCharles has said there was nothing in the report other than Baron owned the buildings.
The Fleming report and Baron’s settlement package are the subject of a Freedom of Information request by several members of the media including The Independent.

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