A York Region prosecutor facing criminal charges for allegedly fixing tickets can return to work as a paralegal under certain restrictions, a Law Society tribunal has decided.
Catherine Petrolo — who faces charges of breach of trust and obstructing justice — can practise “as an employee of another licensee” and must “inform all clients she has restrictions on her practice,” the tribunal decision stated.
“The weight of the evidence supporting criminal charges for obstruction of justice and breach of public trust is not strong,” the decision stated. (Her prominent criminal defence lawyer Alan) Gold’s opinion is that these charges are meritless and should never have been laid.
“Ms. Petrolo denies, and the evidence is not strong, that the resolutions of these (traffic) tickets were outside the expected norm or that she took a bribe,” the decision stated.
“There is no allegation that substantial amounts of money changed hands, that someone avoided charges for a significant crime or that a member of the public lost significant money,” the decision stated.
Paralegal Frank Alfano, who represented Petrolo, said “we are very pleased” with the decision.
Alfano vigorously opposed the temporary suspension of Petrolo’s paralegal licence at the tribunal after his client was charged criminally for allegedly fixing traffic tickets in exchange for a computer, tablet and a Yorkdale gift card.
“Cathy had an unblemished record as a paralegal,” said Alfano. “The reasons accept exactly what we argued and recognize the weaknesses in the criminal charges and now Cathy can get back to work.”
Petrolo, 36 — a licensed paralegal and working for York Region since 2013 — was earning more than $100,000 a year when she was fired by the regional prosecutor’s office in October. She was charged as part of a 10-month investigation that also landed York Regional Police Const. Richard Senior in trouble.
Senior, 44, faces numerous criminal charges, including trafficking cocaine.
“The charges against Petrolo and Senior are certainly overblown,” said Senior’s lawyer, John Struthers.
Law Society discipline paralegal Kristina MacDonald wanted to suspend or restrict Petrolo‘s practice to prevent “significant harm to the public and the administration of justice.”
Source: The Kingston Whig-Standard