TORONTO – A group of senior police officers investigating Rob Ford tasked an undercover officer with luring a friend of the former mayor into a drug deal, court heard Friday.
The central theme of the meeting on Sept. 11, 2013, was to draw out Alexander (Sandro) Lisi into a hand-to-hand drug deal, Det. Ross Fernandes testified under cross-examination.
“You had clear instructions to achieve that objective,” Lisi’s lawyer, Domenic Basile, said to Fernandes.
Fernandes, who no longer works undercover, agreed that was the mission.
“Project investigators wanted me to draw Mr. Lisi into the deal.”
Doing so, however, was not so simple.
Lisi was lying low because of the “crack video” scandal engulfing Ford at the time.
In addition, Fernandes was trying to hook up with Lisi through a west-end dry cleaner, Jamshid (Jay) Bahrami.
“You were encouraged, you were told, to focus on encouraging Mr. Bahrami to deal with Mr. Lisi in getting Mr. Lisi to sell you drugs,” Basile said. “You were trying to get Mr. Bahrami to hook you up with Mr. Lisi.”
A further complication was that Bahrami had a licence to grow or possess marijuana for medical purposes. That meant catching Bahrami with pot supplied by Lisi wouldn’t work, court heard.
Also, Bahrami, 49, kept trying to steer Fernandes into a drug deal with another supplier named Dan, in part because he didn’t like Italians and didn’t trust Lisi, who was under non-stop police surveillance at the time.
It’s not clear why the senior police brass – including an ace homicide investigator, an inspector and others – were so intent on nabbing Lisi, 36, selling drugs to Bahrami or Fernandes.
What is known is that police suspected Lisi, who was also Ford’s bodyguard and driver, of supplying the former mayor with drugs. Ford was never charged.
Court heard Fernandes – under orders from police brass – went to “extraordinary lengths” to get Lisi, including picking up Bahrami’s son from school in his undercover vehicle.
Despite those efforts, Fernandes never did meet or talk to Lisi and he was never able to orchestrate the required in-person drug deal. He also admitted to never seeing Bahrami sell drugs to anyone.
He did, however, manage to buy $900 worth of marijuana – apparently supplied by Lisi – at Bahrami’s store.
Police arrested both Lisi and Bahrami on Oct. 13, 2013, and charged them with minor trafficking and possession charges. Both men have pleaded not guilty.
At times, Fernandes said he did not remember details of conversations he had with higher ups about pressing Bahrami, who appeared to consider the officer to be a genuine friend, to set up a Lisi deal.
He also said he had no idea of the extraordinary police investigation of the mayor that included aerial and other surveillance.