Baron won’t face trial after crown withdraws breach of trust charge

Petrolia CAO Manny Baron, seen here during a 2015 budget session, has resigned.

Charges against Petrolia’s former CAO have been withdrawn.

Manny Baron was placed on administrative leave after The Independent found the then CAO was behind a numbered company which owned two buildings being used by the town. He had not made his ownership of the buildings known to council and told council when asked in public session that at least one of the building was owned by a local developer instead of his company.

An independent investigator looked into the matter at council’s request. Baron resigned from his position the same day the report was delivered to council last November.

Lambton OPP charged Baron with breach of trust in March. But the charge was withdrawn by the crown Thursday, according to a news release issued by Baron’s lawyer Phillip Millar.

Assistant Crown Attorney Suzanne Lasha says the charge was withdrawn because Baron participated the Direct Accountability Program. “Its a way which charges can be dealt with in the court system as opposed to going ahead with a formal plea or trial.

“Part of that program, the accused has to complete either a program or comply with the conditions of that program which vary from case to case,” she says.

“We deem that some cases can be adequately managed or dealt with in that fashion.”

Lasha says while there is no guilty plea to the formal charge “implicit in that is an acknowledgement” of wrong doing.

Millar says Baron “took responsibility for an administrative error on his part but never breached the trust of the people of Petrolia who he loved serving.”

The full details of the administrative error, found in the investigators report to council, have not been released.

Lasha says with the Direct Accountability Program people can be involved in everything from counseling, giving a charitable donation or paying restitution.

Baron, according to Millar, made a $1,000 to the Petrolia Community Foundation as part of the Direct Accountability program. He adds Baron lost his job for the error.

The former CAO now works for Mapleton Township as the top administrator.

For more on this story, please see the Sept. 13 edition of The Independent

You can read Millar’s full news release about the matter – which he calls “a witch hunt arising from a few political haters that Mr. Baron
ran afoul of while serving Petrolia” here.

Millar said Baron would not be available for an interview with The Independent on the withdrawal of the charge.