TORONTO—The drug trial for Alexander Lisi, a friend of Rob Ford, began Wednesday with a former undercover officer describing events leading up to the arrest that occurred at the height of the “crack video” scandal embroiling the former mayor.
Following not guilty pleas by Lisi and his co-accused, Jamshid (Jay) Bahrami, the Crown opened its case with the officer describing how he approached Bahrami in August 2013 at his west-end dry-cleaning store to buy marijuana.
Det. Ross Fernandes testified he deliberately placed a pack of cigarette-rolling papers in a shirt pocket he took for cleaning in hopes of sparking a conversation about drugs.
The lure worked, and Fernandes and Bahrami began talking about marijuana.
At one point, Bahrami, 49, who has a degenerative and painful arthritic condition, explained that he had a licence to grow marijuana, which he said made him feel better, but that he needed someone to do the growing for him, court heard.
Bahrami complained that Lisi, 36, who he said was connected to Ford, had been “ripping him off” by overcharging for pot and that he “needed to trust somebody else.”
Initial efforts, however, to connect Lisi and Fernandes failed.
Lisi, court heard, had been lying low in light of the scandal embroiling Ford involving reports of a video that apparently shows him smoking crack cocaine.
“Don’t you read the newspapers? The media are all over him,” Fernandes said Bahrami told him.
“I only look at the Sunshine girls,” Fernandes said he responded.
Lisi faces separate charges of extortion related to his alleged attempts to retrieve the “crack video.”
In Lisi’s absence, Fernandes was introduced to “Dan”—another dealer—who offered to supply marijuana but repeatedly failed to deliver.
“Maybe he thinks you’re a cop,” Fernandes recounted Bahrami as saying.
“Maybe I should arrest him for robbing me of gas money.”
At one point Dan said he had the drugs but Fernandes put him off.
“We didn’t want to do the deal that day,” Fernandes explained.
“Only a cop would come whenever you called for him.”
Lisi, who was also Ford’s driver and occasional bodyguard, faces three counts—trafficking in marijuana, possession of marijuana and possession of the proceeds of crime. A trafficking conspiracy charge was withdrawn.
Bahrami, owner of a west-end dry cleaning business, faces two counts of trafficking in marijuana and one of possessing cocaine.
The defence has said it will argue Bahrami was entrapped and that wiretap evidence implicating Lisi is inadmissible.
The trial had been delayed a day because Lisi did not show on Tuesday, apparently due to illness.