Update, 5:30 p.m. The Globe and Mail officially connects Lisi's arrest last night to the Toronto Police investigation into the Toronto gang allegedly mixed up in the Rob Ford crack video scandal. Also, the Toronto Star spoke with one of Lisi's neighbor who added some unusual color to their interesting relationship:
Ford’s visits, going back to last winter, stopped after the Star published Lisi’s photo in mid-August, said Carol Peck, who lives two doors down from the Lisi residence.
Peck says she often saw the mayor park his Ford Escalade in front of Lisi’s Madrill St. house. Lisi would come out of the house and lean into the driver’s side window for a few minutes.
“There’s a side door on the Lisi residence and Lisi comes out, walks across, leans in, and back he goes,” Peck told the Star.
Original An old friend, occasional driver, and alleged drug dealer for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, was arrested last night on charges of trafficking marijuana, complicating Ford's efforts to steer clear of any more drug-related scandals.
Both the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star report that Alexander "Sandro" Lisi, 35, and Jamshid Bahrami, 47, were arrested at a laundromat in Etobicoke, the suburb in Toronto where the mayor lives, early Tuesday evening. Lisi was cited for possession and trafficking marijuana, and two other charges. The Star reports police searched the laundromat after nabbing the two men: "After waiting six hours for a warrant to arrive officers entered the store at 2:40 a.m. and went through cleaning bags, storage bins and even searched a potted plant." It's unclear what evidence they may have gathered.
In the grand saga of Ford, Lisi is something of a significant figure. According to the Globe and Star, Lisi is the focus of a Toronto police investigation into attempts to retrieve the infamous video, first reported by Gawker and the Star, that allegedly shows Mayor Ford smoking crack cocaine. The mayor has admitted to being close with Lisi, and the latter has been frequently seen acting as a sort of assistant to his friend, despite having no formal role at the mayor's office.
Ford told the Toronto Sun Lisi is "a great guy and straight as an arrow," which doesn't seem jibe with Lisi's criminal history. In August, the Star reported Lisi has claimed to supply the mayor with drugs; he also has a violent criminal history that includes threatening to kill a woman. The other man has no connection to the mayor.
The real question is whether or not this arrest will have any effect on the mayor. Ford still has not been fully implicated in the crack-smoking scandal that has dogged him all summer. He admitted to smoking "a lot of" weed in the past, but the crack connection still hasn't been officially established and there's not telling if he'll ever be charged with a crime. Wiretaps used in the Toronto police's "Project Traveller" investigation into drugs in the Etobicoke neighborhood (where the mayor allegedly smoked crack) were ordered sealed by a judge despite pleas from journalists who think they could reveal gang ties to the mayor's office.
But with Lisi's Tuesday arrest, some think the mayor's clock is ticking. Could his "friend" lead police to something incriminating or has the investigation already uncovered more than we know? "If everybody else in the Rob Ford crack scandal keeps getting arrested, does that not suggest Occam's Razor?" asks Sarah Weinman.