Former Petrolia CAO/Clerk Manny Baron. (Photo via LinkedIn public profile.)

Former Petrolia CAO cleared of breach of trust

Petrolia’s former CAO has been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.

A charge of breach of trust against Manny Baron was dropped in Sarnia court Thursday, according to his lawyer Phillip Millar.

Baron, 43, resigned from his position in November of 2017 after a report to council about his ownership, through a numbered company, of two buildings leased to the town.

“My client is both relieved and thrilled to have had his name cleared of criminal wrongdoing, this was a witch hunt arising from a few political haters that Mr. Baron ran afoul of while serving Petrolia,” said Millar. “The justice system was used to try to find something that wasn’t there… and today Mr. Baron, an outstanding public servant, can hold his head high knowing his name is cleared.”

Millar said the Crown didn’t give a reason for the charge being withdrawn, just an acknowledgement that it was not the type of case that needed to go ahead criminally.

In a news release from his lawyer, Baron said he’s happy.

“It is not until you are charged, sitting in a room with an officer intent on getting you convicted that you see the justice system from the other side,” said Baron. “I am thrilled the system could work for me but am terrified to think how people who can’t afford a great lawyer get justice. It is overwhelming, and you feel you have no voice and have to wait for this long process to work while everyone has pre-judged you. I¬†will never forget what the Mayor of Mapleton Township and the council members did by believing in me and trusting that I would clear my name. I have no words that can express how stressful this has been and how happy I am with the result.”

The news release said Baron made a $1,000 donation to the Petrolia Community Foundation “as a good faith gesture to show that he took responsibility for an administrative error on his part, but never breached the trust of the people of Petrolia who he loved serving.”

Baron is now the CAO for the Township of Mapleton.

-With files from Dave Dentinger