Evidence that led to the arrest of Rob Ford's friend for drugs to be released this morning

TORONTO — The Globe and Mail

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's occasional driver Alessandro Lisi leaves Old City Hall after he was granted bail on drug and conspiracy charges in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. (Michelle Siu For The Globe and Mail)

Portions of a voluminous police document outlining the investigation that led to drug charges against a close friend of Mayor Rob Ford will be released early Thursday morning.

Details about the investigation into Alessandro Lisi will be published live here as soon as they are available.

Justice Ian Nordheimer ruled on Wednesday that a redacted version of the 480-page affidavit, which investigators authored to obtain search warrants in their case against Mr. Lisi, should be made public immediately.

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The affidavit, referred to as an Information to Obtain (ITO), is the result of a months-long investigation, dubbed Brazen 2, that has reached all the way to the mayor’s office and sent reverberations throughout the city’s corridors of power.

The mayor’s name did not come up in court, but lawyer Peter Jacobsen, who is representing The Globe and Mail and other media outlets, said, “The Lisi investigation does involve the mayor, we all know that. We know that he’s a friend of the mayor.”

While Brazen 2 resulted in drug charges against Mr. Lisi, the mayor’s occasional driver, Justice Nordheimer stated on Thursday that “I don’t think it’s fair to say that Mr. Lisi was the target of the investigation.”

The full ITO is expected to place the mayor’s relationship with Mr. Lisi under a microscope, but for now only the sections that comprise the “essential narrative” of the police investigation into Mr. Lisi will be made public. All parties have until Nov. 8 to submit arguments concerning the release of the redacted portions.

Mr. Ford declined to comment after the judge’s ruling.

The mayor’s brother, city Councillor Doug Ford said he is “not worried at all,” and that he didn’t even know until Tuesday night that the documents might be released. “Rob’s the most honest politician in this country,” he said. “You see fiscal problems all over this country, indiscretions from the Senate down to the province. You’re never going to see that down at City Hall under his watch.”

The mayor recently described Mr. Lisi, as a “good guy,” and wrote a character reference letter for him in June when the 35-year-old was convicted for threatening to kill an ex-girlfriend.

Mr. Lisi was arrested in Etobicoke on Oct. 1 and charged with trafficking in marijuana, possession of marijuana, possession of proceeds of crime, and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.

According to a Toronto police source, Brazen 2 was launched as a spinoff to Project Traveller, a crackdown on drugs and street gangs in Etobicoke that led to dozens of arrests in mid-June. Brazen 2 is being led by experienced homicide investigators Detective Sergeant Gary Giroux and Detective Joyce Schertzer, both of whom were present in court on Wednesday.

One of the key questions before Justice Nordheimer was whether any of the individuals named in the document should receive notification that information about them will soon be released to the public. The Public Prosecution Service of Canada has identified about 70 people who are named in the documents but are unlikely to face criminal charges.

Justice Nordheimer ruled that there is nothing in law that obliges prosecutors to notify those individuals, and said that making that a requirement would “open up a Pandora’s box of issues.”

When asked earlier this week why the document is nearly 500 pages, Chief Bill Blair said: “The evidence is in that document, and there is a requirement in law that we provide full and frank disclosure to the courts. That’s what we’ve done. Now it’s up to the courts to decide what to do with that information.”

The mayor and his associates have been under intense scrutiny since May, when The Toronto Star and U.S. website Gawker reported that a drug dealer attempted to sell them a video that purportedly shows Mr. Ford smoking crack cocaine. The mayor has questioned the existence of the video, and said, “I don’t smoke crack cocaine.”

Sources have told The Globe that at least five former staffers in Mr. Ford’s office have been questioned by police about attempts to retrieve the alleged video. At least some of those questions asked by police focused on Mr. Lisi.

With a report from Kaleigh Rogers