The drug trial for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s friend Alessandro Lisi will be held next March, well after the municipal election.
At a hearing on Tuesday, the case against Mr. Lisi was set to go to trial from March 24 to 27.
The timeline – trials are set based on the availability of lawyers, judges and court facilities – means that Mr. Ford’s bid for re-election in the Oct. 27 vote would not be affected by any possible revelations from Mr. Lisi’s trial. The mayor, who is on leave to undergo treatment for substance abuse, has not been charged.
Mr. Lisi, 35, was arrested at a dry-cleaning shop in the city’s west end last October and charged with trafficking in marijuana, possession of marijuana, possession of proceeds of crime and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
Also arrested was the owner of the business, Jamshid Bahrami, who faces charges of possession of cocaine, trafficking in marijuana and conspiracy. He is being tried along with Mr. Lisi.
Mr. Bahrami’s lawyer, Jacob Stilman, requested dates to be set aside after the trial so that he can mount an argument that his client was entrapped by police. That hearing, scheduled for April 27 and 28, will take place only if Mr. Bahrami is found guilty at trial.
“He’s been very, very distressed by the attention that these charges have brought on him and from his perspective, this is really a very simple case and … [we’re] six months into the timeline here and we’re only now setting a date which is practically a year away. It’s an enormous burden,” Mr. Stilman told reporters.
Mr. Ford and Mr. Lisi have been the focus of an ongoing Toronto Police investigation. Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair asked the Ontario Provincial Police to assume an oversight role in a bid to defuse criticism that Toronto’s investigation was politically motivated. Last month, the OPP revealed that they had withdrawn from the probe, citing a lack of new information.
A Toronto Police document on the investigation, known as Project Brazen 2, revealed that officers spent months trailing Mr. Ford and Mr. Lisi – who police allege is a drug dealer – documenting their meetings at all hours in often bizarre locations, such as empty parking lots and gas stations. Police noted that packages were often exchanged between the pair, though the contents are not known.
The investigation was launched after media reports a year ago about a video allegedly showing the mayor smoking crack cocaine. Several months later, Mr. Ford admitted to smoking crack in a “drunken stupor.”
Mr. Bahrami, who had been authorized to use marijuana to treat his rheumatoid arthritis, told The Globe and Mail last fall that Mr. Lisi had supplied him with the drug and would sometimes share a joint after the shop closed. Mr. Lisi also brought in the mayor’s dry cleaning and mending, Mr. Bahrami said.
Mr. Lisi is also charged with extortion in relation to alleged threats in a bid to retrieve the video of the mayor. A preliminary hearing for him on that charge was scheduled for March 2-6 and April 13-17, 2015.
Lawyers for Mr. Lisi are scheduled to return to court to discuss pretrial issues relating to the drugs and extortion cases on June 17.
None of the allegations have been proved in court.