Toronto Mayor Rob Ford 'very surprised' by associate's drug charges
Published Wednesday, October 2, 2013 8:45AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 31, 2013 8:54AM EDT
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he’s “very surprised” that the man known as his occasional driver and security guard is now facing multiple drug charges after being picked up in a raid on an Etobicoke dry-cleaning store.
Alexander Lisi, 35, and Jamshid Bahrami, 47, were arrested Tuesday evening at Richview Cleaners, located in a plaza near the intersection of Eglinton and Kipling Avenues. In a statement, Toronto police said they made the arrests when executing a search warrant in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation.
Lisi is described in reports as a member of Ford’s entourage, but does not serve an official role in the mayor's office.
Lisi has been charged with trafficking marijuana, possession of marijuana, possession of the proceeds of crime, and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
Bahrami has been charged with possession of cocaine, three counts of trafficking marijuana, and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
On Wednesday, Ford held a brief news conference at a gas station near his Etobicoke home, and told reporters that he considers Lisi “a friend.”
“He’s a friend, he’s a good guy and I don’t throw my friends under the bus,” Ford said. “I’ve never once seen the guy drink, never once seen him do drugs.”
Ford said he was “very surprised” by the charges, but said he could not say much else because the matter “is before the courts.”
Ford also blasted the media for gathering outside his home Wednesday morning to get his reaction to the charges against Lisi.
“I don’t go to your front door, don’t come to my front door,” Ford said. “That’s pretty low, if you ask me.”
As police searched the dry-cleaning premises Tuesday night, a black Range Rover that is connected to Lisi was towed from the scene.
Police executed a second search warrant overnight at a house that is registered to a family named Lisi on Madill Street. However, Alexander Lisi – who is also known as "Alessandro," "Dro" and "Sandro"-- is not listed as one of the owners of the home.
Meanwhile, police are remaining tight-lipped about the case. The lead investigator of the drug arrest has been identified as Det. Sgt. Gary Giroux, one of the top detectives in the city.
Some suggest Giroux’s position on the file indicates the case is being taken very seriously by Toronto police.
Lisi and Bahrami were released on $5,000 bail each after appearing at Old City hall court Wednesday afternoon. Lisi did not take questions from reporters as he left court, instead running away and ducking into a taxi cab in an effort to avoid the media throng.
They are both subject to the same bail conditions: they may not possess weapons or non-prescription drugs, they may not have more than one cellphone and they cannot have contact with one another.
They are next scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 12.
With a report from CTV’s John Vennavalley-Rao