Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has described Alessandro Lisi as a “friend” and “a good guy.” Mr. Lisi has been seen frequently at the mayor’s side – blocking him from reporters during heated exchanges and ferrying him to official events. Mr. Ford said he was “surprised” when Mr. Lisi, 35, was arrested on multiple drug charges in early October. On Thursday, Mr. Lisi was arrested again and charged with extortion.
A document outlining the police investigation into Mr. Lisi was ordered released on Thursday, shedding light on surveillance that shows meetings and phone calls between Mr. Lisi and the mayor. In the affidavit, Detective Constable Nader Khoshbooi concludes: “I believe that Alexander LISI is a drug dealer. I believe that Alexander LISI is a source of marihuana and has been observed meeting people a number of times in circumstances that would provide opportunities for LISI to deliver or make drugs available to them.”
The allegations in the police affidavit have not been proven in court.
Here are two occasions in which Mr. Lisi was observed with Mr. Ford:
ESSO GAS STATION
On July 11, Toronto police placed surveillance on Mr. Lisi. They saw his Range Rover and Mr. Ford’s vehicle pull into an Esso gas station, not far from the mayor’s home. “LISI was observed to take a manila envelope from the front of his vehicle and walked to the back of the Range Rover where he placed something in the envelope,” the affidavit says. “LISI then took the envelope and placed it in the passenger side of Mayor FORD’s vehicle, while Mayor FORD was inside the gas station kiosk.”
That’s what police saw happening outside, but this is what Esso’s closed-circuit television footage revealed, according to the affidavit:
At roughly 5:38 p.m., Mr. Ford’s Escalade pulls into the station. One minute later, he enters the gas station and “heads straight to the washroom.” Not long after, a vehicle, believed to be Mr. Lisi’s Range Rover, appears on one of the pump cameras. At about 5:40, Mr. Lisi enters the station, while texting and holding a manila envelope, and picks out a few bottles of Gatorade and a bag of chips. He pays for his purchases and, at about 5:42 p.m., with the mayor still in the washroom, he leaves the station with the envelope and his purchases.
The surveillance footage loses Mr. Lisi as he walks west out the door, and when he returns a “short time later,” he is no longer holding the plastic bag. Two minutes later, Mr. Lisi walks near the mayor’s Escalade, still holding the envelope. “Shortly after this image, he walks along the passenger side of the Mayor’s Escalade and walks out of frame.” At about the same time, Mr. Ford leaves the bathroom, picks out a bottle of Gatorade, chooses a pack of gum and then pays. Two minutes later, he leaves.
On June 26, Toronto police used plane and ground surveillance to watch Mr. Lisi – videos and photographs were taken, too. After driving to an auto-detailing shop, where he “stayed for a few minutes, briefly speaking to an employee outside,” Mr. Lisi returned home and was seen removing a heavy knapsack from the trunk before entering the house, the affidavit says. He was later observed retrieving a small cooler bag from the garage and putting it into the trunk of a “known red Mustang.”
He also placed a white plastic bag into the passenger side, and then he and an unknown man drove to a nearby parking lot. Mr. Lisi went to a soccer field close by and met with Mr. Ford, while the unknown male stayed with the car.
According to the document, Mr. Lisi and Mr. Ford spoke for a few minutes, but then Mr. Lisi went back to his vehicle and retrieved from the floor a white plastic bag, which “already contained items in it.” He took some cans of Minute Maid from the trunk and added them to the white bag.