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A Toronto Police Service surveillance image from Project Brazen 2, the investigation into Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. (smitchel/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
A Toronto Police Service surveillance image from Project Brazen 2, the investigation into Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. (smitchel/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Crack video allegations sparked extensive police investigation into Rob Ford Add to ...

The investigators concluded that the efforts to retrieve the vehicle information formed evidence of Mayor Ford “utilizing his position and the powers of the Office of the Mayor, to obtain information not available to regular citizens.”

While the investigation resulted in four drug-related charges against Mr. Lisi, Justice Ian Nordheimer stated in court on Wednesday: “I don’t think it’s fair to say that Mr. Lisi was the target of the investigation.”

When police announced Mr. Lisi’s Oct. 1 arrest, they said it was “in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation.”

Mr. Ford refused to answer questions as he left his house Thursday morning. Carrying an armful of dress shirts, Mr. Ford asked members of the media on his driveway to leave his property. When photographers began to back up, he asked again and eventually became agitated, shouting at and shoving photographers.

“Get off my property!” the mayor shouted as he pushed one photographer on his driveway. “What don’t you understand? Get off my property, partner!”

Mr. Lisi’s lawyer, Seth Weinstein, also would not comment. “Given the outstanding charges against Mr. Lisi, it would not be appropriate at this time to respond to any inquiries about the charges or the information contained within the ITO,” he said by e-mail on Thursday.

A ‘good guy’

Mr. Lisi does not have an official role in the mayor’s office, but has been spotted in the past year serving as a driver for Mr. Ford, ferrying him to official events and fending off reporters.

After Mr. Lisi’s arrest, Mr. Ford said he was surprised at the charges, and called his friend “a good guy” and “on the straight and narrow.” When it was later revealed that Mr. Ford had written a character reference for Mr. Lisi after the 35-year-old was convicted of threatening to kill a former girlfriend, the mayor defended the letter by saying “I support a lot of people.”

Mr. Lisi is facing charges of trafficking in marijuana, possession of marijuana, possession of proceeds of crime, and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. Jamshid Bahrami, an Etobicoke dry cleaner, was also charged.

‘Without fear and without favour’

Several sources with knowledge of the police inquiries told The Globe earlier this month that the Lisi arrest was part of a broader probe by police examining at least two individuals close to the mayor.

Throughout the months, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair refused to say whether the mayor was ever the subject of an investigation, or mentioned in any evidence gathered during the raids.

In a speech he gave earlier this month, however, he said police will “leave no stone unturned” in their work. “We will pursue every avenue of investigation that is required to do our jobs and to uphold the law,” he said.

“That will be done without fear and without favour. It will be done in the right way.”

Mr. Ford and his associates have been under intense scrutiny since May, when The Toronto Star and Gawker reported that a drug dealer tried to sell them a video that purportedly shows the mayor smoking crack cocaine. Mr. Ford has questioned the existence of the video, and said “I do not use crack cocaine.”

Sources have told The Globe that at least five former staffers in 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.

Since the reports surfaced, Mr. Ford has been questioned about his relationship to individuals linked to Project Traveller and Project Brazen. A photograph that surfaced alongside the video reports shows Mr. Ford posing with Mohammad Khattak and Monir Kasim, two of the men arrested in Project Traveller. A fourth man in the photo, Anthony Smith, was shot and killed outside a downtown Toronto nightclub in March.

The photo was taken in front of an Etobicoke home that has been linked to drug activity. Two of the home’s residents, Fabio Basso (who sources told The Globe was “close” with the mayor in high school), and Elena Johnson have a criminal history.

Other associates of the mayor’s have raised questions, too. Earlier this month, The Globe reported that Mr. Ford had recruited Payman Aboodowleh, a man with a history of violent crimes, to coach his former high school football team.

In August, The Globe reported that the Mayor made an after-hours visit to a jail in March, where he sought a meeting with then-inmate Bruno Bellissimo. Mr. Bellissimo was awaiting trial on assault charges at the time, and, according to sources, has a history of drug activity.

With a report from Kaleigh Rogers

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