The owner of a dry cleaning store who faces drug charges in relation to an investigation into the Rob Ford crack cocaine video is distancing himself from the Toronto mayor.
Jamshid Bahrami, who was arrested and charged along with the mayor's friend Alessandro Lisi last month, issued a statement Tuesday asking for privacy.
"What my client wants the public to understand at this time is that nothing in this extensive investigation links him to Mayor Ford, the Project Traveller matter, crack pipe videos or any other activities which have understandably caught the attention of the public and the media," says a statement distributed by his lawyer, Jacob Stilman.
Project Traveller was a year-long police investigation that targeted an alleged drug-dealing and gun-running criminal organization operating out of high-rise apartment buildings in Toronto's west end.
Police documents related to Mr. Lisi and Mr. Bahrami's arrest detail numerous meetings and exchanges between the mayor and Mr. Lisi, who police refer to as a drug dealer. Mr. Bahrami, who is charged in relation to selling marijuana to an undercover police officer, plays a more minor role in the documents. The investigation was launched after media reports of a video that apparently shows Mr. Ford smoking crack cocaine.
Mr. Bahrami and Mr. Lisi, whose lawyers appeared in court on Tuesday, are scheduled to return for a judicial pre-trial hearing on Jan. 14.
Mr. Stilman, who noted that the charges against Mr. Bahrami have not been proven in court, said his client is "an extremely hardworking man who regularly puts in 12-hour days at his small dry cleaning store." He added that Mr. Bahrami has health problems.
In an interview with The Globe last month, Mr. Bahrami, who is authorized to use marijuana to treat his rheumatoid arthritis, said Mr. Lisi supplied him with the drug and would sometimes share a joint after the shop closed. Mr. Lisi, who sometimes served as Mr. Ford's driver, also brought in the mayor's dry cleaning and mending, Mr. Bahrami said.
Mr. Bahrami said he believes the police and media were out to get Mr. Ford. "They want to pin the mayor," he said last month. "And I know I'm stuck in the middle."
Mr. Lisi, 35, and Mr. Bahrami, 47, face several drug-related offences, including possession and trafficking. They were released on $5,000 bail.
Mr. Lisi also faces a charge of extortion in relation to alleged efforts to retrieve the video.
With a report from Greg McArthur