Town Council releases lawyer’s report that led to probe of Mayor’s spending

September 22, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Town of Orangeville solicitor John Hart appeared before council on Monday evening to provide legal advice to the town and background regarding the events surrounding a criminal investigation into Mayor Jeremy Williams’ use of a Town credit card.

Last Friday, Town CAO Ed Brennan was advised by Police Chief Wayne Kalinski that Peel Regional Police would not be moving forward with criminal charges against Mayor Williams.

Mr. Hart went on to advise Council that the Peel Police report will be distributed to appropriate parties over the short term. Specifically, Mr. Brennan and Chief Kalinski will have immediate access to the full report. At a later date, the report may be released to other parties such as council or the public, but this has yet to be determined.

Mr. Hart did say that a report he originally submitted to council that led to the police investigation was in fact property of the town of Orangeville, and that if council wished it to be released it would be the town’s prerogative to make such a decision.

The lawyer’s presentation was clear and brief. Questioning of Mr. Hart was led by Councillor Sylvia Bradley, who asked “what was the cost of the Peel Police investigation? Will Orangeville taxpayers be charged by Peel police for the expense?”

Mr. Hart explained that there are protocols in place for these types of actions. Adjoining police forces such as Orangeville and Peel are obligated to help each other with resources where possible. Accordingly, no expenses would be billed to Orangeville taxpayers.

After Mr. Hart’s presentation, Deputy Mayor Warren Maycock made a motion to waive client privilege and make the report public immediately.

Councillor Nick Garisto wanted to understand – “What are we trying to prove by the motion? What is the purpose?”

Deputy Mayor Maycock said he wanted the public to understand council’s motivation for the police investigation. “Decisions made by council are based on legal opinions or by staff. In this instance, council acted on legal advice.”

Councillor Don Kidd wanted the public to understand that council always knew there would be no cost to the town. Council fully understood the rules associated with such an investigation prior to approving it.

A vote was called to determine whether council would indeed waive their client privilege and release the report. All voted in favor of its release, with the exception of Mayor Williams. As a result, the report is now available to anyone who wishes to contact town clerk Susan Greatrix.

The Hart report says his Toronto law firm, Ritchie Ketcheson Hart & Biggart LLP, was originally contacted in February by Ed Brennan. The Town CAO was concerned that certain expenses incurred by the Mayor on the corporate credit card appeared not to be in keeping with the town bylaws, policies, and procedures.

The CAO had met with the Mayor on August 28, 2015 and again on January 22, 2016 to discuss these issues but had been unable to arrive at a solution.

Mr. Brennan’s final meeting with Mayor Williams occurred on March 11, when Mr. Hart also attended and was promised by the Mayor that repayment would be made.

The lawyer’s report, filed on March 21, notes that the Mayor had still not remitted payment as of that date.

The lawyer advised the town that the matter raised several issues regarding the Mayor’s expenses:

• ersonal expenses charged on the town credit card were prohibited based on town policy.

• as expenses are reimbursed based on a rate per kilometre. Payment of gas invoices  was contrary to town bylaws.

• xpenses for home offices for the Mayor and Council are part of the remuneration provided by the town, so additional expenses should not be submitted.

• he Mayor’s trip to China was not authorized by town council or Dufferin County council. Accordingly, the Mayor had no right to submit his China expenses to the Town.

The idea of proceeding with possible criminal charges against Mayor Williams was brought forth by the lawyer based on the following:

• uditors advised that certain tax issues exist in relation to the expenses. Personal expenses charged by the Mayor and not immediately repaid would constitute a loan that should be repaid with interest.

• he legal team espoused that criminal behavior such as breach of trust or misappropriation of funds could be investigated.

• f serious nature was that the expenses were not immediately repaid by the Mayor once he was informed that he was in conflict with accepted bylaws and policies.

The report concluded with the advice that town council should refer the matter to Peel Regional Police Services for investigation and a final decision whether criminal charges ought to be laid against the Mayor.

On receipt of the legal advice, Council did in fact ask Peel Police to investigate.

The six-month investigation ended last Friday, with Peel Police reporting that they would not proceed with charges against Mayor Williams.

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.