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Courts: Ex-Petrolia CAO barred from contact with mayor, staffers

By Tyler Kula, Sarnia Observer

Manny Baron

Manny Baron

The bureaucrat charged with breach of trust in relation to his work as Petrolia’s top manager has been ordered by a court to not contact the town’s mayor and several municipal staffers, court records show.

According to information prepared for the court, Manny Baron agreed to not communicate with Mayor John McCharles and several top town bureaucrats, including his successor as CAO, Richard Charlebois. He’s also not to contact Horst Richter, a local developer, or John Fleming – whose investigation into a secret land deal involving Baron led to Baron’s resignation last November.

Baron, 43, was hired in January as top bureaucrat for Mapleton Township, northwest of Kitchener. Mapleton’s mayor, Neil Driscoll, has told Postmedia Baron will “definitely” stay in the job after being charged earlier this week with breach of trust by a public official.

The accusations have not been tested in court. Baron is next scheduled to appear in Sarnia court April 16.

In an internal probe last year, Fleming investigated why Baron hadn’t disclosed ownership of two buildings leased to the Town of Petrolia, including one Baron bought from Richter and then sold back soon after questions were raised.

Baron resigned in November after Fleming’s report was shared with council.

It has not been made public, but McCharles has previously said it’s not “scathing,” and noted it contained no accusations “other than Mr. Baron made an error in judgment and owned the two buildings.”

Per the court documents, which do not detail the charges, Baron has agreed to not visit Petrolia town hall. He’s also barred from speaking with two women except in relation to landlord/tenant matters.

Lambton OPP Const. Chris Doupe said he can’t disclose why the conditions exist, so as not to reveal “evidentiary issues.”