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Drug trial of Mayor Ford’s friend expected to take place early next year

The case against Alessandro Lisi was put over to May 7, when trial dates will probably be set.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

The drug trial for Mayor Rob Ford's friend and former occasional driver is expected to take place in early 2015, well after the municipal election.

During a brief court hearing on Thursday, the case against Alessandro Lisi was put over to May 7, when trial dates will probably be set.

"We are looking at a trial some time in the new year – I would expect January or February," Mr. Lisi's lawyer, Seth Weinstein, later said by e-mail.

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The timeline – trials are set based on the availability of lawyers, judges and court facilities – means that Mr. Ford's bid for re-election in the Oct. 27 vote would not be affected by any possible revelations from Mr. Lisi's trial on several drug-related charges. Mr. Ford has not been charged.

Mr. Lisi, 35, was arrested at a dry-cleaning shop in the city's west end last October and charged with trafficking in marijuana, possession of marijuana, possession of proceeds of crime and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.

Also arrested was the owner of the business, Jamshid Bahrami, who faces charges of possession of cocaine, trafficking in marijuana and conspiracy.

Mr. Ford and Mr. Lisi have been the focus of an ongoing Toronto Police investigation. Earlier this month, the Ontario Provincial Police revealed they had withdrawn from the probe, citing a lack of new information.

A Toronto Police document on the investigation, known as Project Brazen 2, revealed that officers spent months trailing Mr. Ford and Mr. Lisi – who police allege is a drug dealer – documenting their meetings at all hours in often bizarre locations, such as empty parking lots and gas stations. Police noted that packages were often exchanged between the pair, though the contents are not known.

The investigation was launched after media reports last May about a video allegedly showing the mayor smoking crack cocaine. Several months later, Mr. Ford admitted to smoking crack in a "drunken stupor."

Mr. Bahrami, who had been authorized to use marijuana to treat his rheumatoid arthritis, told The Globe and Mail last fall that Mr. Lisi had supplied him with the drug and would sometimes share a joint after the shop closed. Mr. Lisi also brought in the mayor's dry cleaning and mending, Mr. Bahrami said.

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Mr. Lisi is also charged with extortion in relation to alleged threats in a bid to retrieve the video of the mayor.

None of the allegations have been proved in court.

Editor's note: Due to an unfortunate typo, the homepage headline on this story briefly referred to "Dog Ford" until corrected.

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