Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has described Alessandro Lisi as a "friend" and "a good guy." Mr. Lisi has been seen frequently at the mayor's side – blocking him from reporters during heated exchanges and ferrying him to official events. Mr. Ford said he was "surprised" when Mr. Lisi, 35, was arrested on multiple drug charges in early October. On Thursday, Mr. Lisi was arrested again and charged with extortion.
A document outlining the police investigation into Mr. Lisi was ordered released on Thursday, shedding light on surveillance that shows meetings and phone calls between Mr. Lisi and the mayor. In the affidavit, Detective Constable Nader Khoshbooi concludes: "I believe that Alexander LISI is a drug dealer. I believe that Alexander LISI is a source of marihuana and has been observed meeting people a number of times in circumstances that would provide opportunities for LISI to deliver or make drugs available to them."
The allegations in the police affidavit have not been proven in court.
Here are two occasions in which Mr. Lisi was observed with Mr. Ford:
ESSO GAS STATION
On July 11, Toronto police placed surveillance on Mr. Lisi. They saw his Range Rover and Mr. Ford's vehicle pull into an Esso gas station, not far from the mayor's home. "LISI was observed to take a manila envelope from the front of his vehicle and walked to the back of the Range Rover where he placed something in the envelope," the affidavit says. "LISI then took the envelope and placed it in the passenger side of Mayor FORD's vehicle, while Mayor FORD was inside the gas station kiosk."
That's what police saw happening outside, but this is what Esso's closed-circuit television footage revealed, according to the affidavit:
At roughly 5:38 p.m., Mr. Ford's Escalade pulls into the station. One minute later, he enters the gas station and "heads straight to the washroom." Not long after, a vehicle, believed to be Mr. Lisi's Range Rover, appears on one of the pump cameras. At about 5:40, Mr. Lisi enters the station, while texting and holding a manila envelope, and picks out a few bottles of Gatorade and a bag of chips. He pays for his purchases and, at about 5:42 p.m., with the mayor still in the washroom, he leaves the station with the envelope and his purchases.
The surveillance footage loses Mr. Lisi as he walks west out the door, and when he returns a "short time later," he is no longer holding the plastic bag. Two minutes later, Mr. Lisi walks near the mayor's Escalade, still holding the envelope. "Shortly after this image, he walks along the passenger side of the Mayor's Escalade and walks out of frame." At about the same time, Mr. Ford leaves the bathroom, picks out a bottle of Gatorade, chooses a pack of gum and then pays. Two minutes later, he leaves.
On June 26, Toronto police used plane and ground surveillance to watch Mr. Lisi – videos and photographs were taken, too. After driving to an auto-detailing shop, where he "stayed for a few minutes, briefly speaking to an employee outside," Mr. Lisi returned home and was seen removing a heavy knapsack from the trunk before entering the house, the affidavit says. He was later observed retrieving a small cooler bag from the garage and putting it into the trunk of a "known red Mustang."
He also placed a white plastic bag into the passenger side, and then he and an unknown man drove to a nearby parking lot. Mr. Lisi went to a soccer field close by and met with Mr. Ford, while the unknown male stayed with the car.
According to the document, Mr. Lisi and Mr. Ford spoke for a few minutes, but then Mr. Lisi went back to his vehicle and retrieved from the floor a white plastic bag, which "already contained items in it." He took some cans of Minute Maid from the trunk and added them to the white bag.
He walked to Mr. Ford's Escalade, which was parked nearby, and opened the driver door. He put the bag on the centre console and then met up with Mr. Ford, who was now "walking north with a toddler." While the toddler took a seat in the Escalade, Mr. Ford and Mr. Lisi spoke briefly. The pair then parted, with Mr. Lisi leaving on foot and the mayor driving off in his SUV.
THE PHONE CALLS
On May 16 at roughly 8:28 p.m., Gawker.com went live with a story about a video purportedly showing Mr. Ford smoking crack. This is a snapshot of the people in touch with Mr. Lisi in the ensuing 48 hours, according to the Toronto police affidavit that was ordered released Thursday. It outlines the police case against Mr. Lisi, allegations that have not been proven in court.
Mayor Rob Ford: Ten minutes before the Gawker story went live, Mr. Ford phoned Mr. Lisi in a call that lasted 40 seconds. The next day, May 17, at 5:26 p.m., five minutes after a staff member contacted Mr. Lisi, Mr. Ford phoned Mr. Lisi in a call that lasted 22 seconds. A minute later, Mr. Ford's residential number called Mr. Lisi's but was forwarded to voicemail. Within seconds, Mr. Ford's cell and residential numbers called Mr. Lisi, and the pair remained in contact for almost four minutes. The pair spoke twice more that day, and then exchanged seven calls on May 18.
Unknown contacts: After speaking with Mr. Ford on the evening of May 16, Mr. Lisi texted a number redacted in the affidavit nine times. That contact also called Mr. Lisi four times between 8:23 p.m. and 9:08 p.m. Mr. Lisi exchanged calls or texts with several other unknown contacts on May 17.
Fabio Basso: At 9:25 p.m. on May 16, Mr. Lisi made an eight-second call to Fabio Basso, who has a criminal past and, according to a neighbour, was "close" to Mr. Ford in high school. On May 17, the pair exchanged several calls, including one from Mr. Lisi six minutes after he called Mohamed Siad, who is thought to have been among those attempting to sell the video. The now-famous photo of Mr. Ford with alleged gang members, which was circulated around the time the video surfaced, was taken in front of the Basso home.
Liban Siyad: Minutes after his first call to Mr. Basso on May 16, Mr. Lisi made two calls to Liban Siyad, who faces charges stemming from this summer's Project Traveller drugs and guns raid and who, according to a confidential source cited in the affidavit, has spent time at the Basso home. Mr. Lisi called Mr. Siyad again at 9:45 p.m. on May 18.
Mohamed Siad: At 1:17 p.m. and 1:23 p.m. on May 17, Mr. Lisi made two short calls to Mohamed Siad, who also faces charges stemming from Project Traveller. "Siad is believed to have been one of the people trying to sell Mayor FORD crack video," the document says. Before midnight that day, Mr. Lisi made two short calls to Mr. Siad. On the morning of May 18, Mr. Lisi called Mr. Siad 20 minutes before calling the mayor.
Thomas Beyer: At 5:21 p.m. on May 17, the number associated with Thomas Beyer, Mr. Ford's executive assistant, called Mr. Lisi.
David Price: Contact between Mr. Lisi and David Price – the mayor's director of operations and logistics, and whom The Globe reported participated in the 1980s hashish business of Doug Ford, the mayor's brother – was heavy the day after Gawker published the story. "On May 17th, 2013 LISI and PRICE talked numerous times in between LISI calling persons known to live in or near the Dixon Buildings," where the Project Traveller raids were centred, the affidavit says. "These people include, Fabio BASSO and Mohammed SIAD."
Between Aug. 7 and Sept. 19, the mayor and Mr. Lisi contacted one another 349 times by phone, according to the affidavit. Mr. Lisi also was in contact with other players associated with Mr. Ford. Among them:
Christopher Fickel: Mr. Lisi and Christopher Fickel, who resigned in June as the mayor's special assistant, spoke several times in April and May. Mr. Fickel, who was among those interviewed by police, and had met Mr. Lisi "on numerous occasions," had phone communication with Mr. Lisi once between Aug. 7 and Sept. 19. "FICKEL does not know where the Mayor got marihuana from but has heard that 'Sandro' [Mr. Lisi's nickname] may be the person who provides the Mayor with marihuana and possibly cocaine," the affidavit says. It also says "FICKEL would call LISI to find the Mayor."
Payman Aboodowleh: Mr. Lisi came to know the mayor through Payman Aboodowleh, whom Mr. Lisi called seven times between March 18 and June 24, according to the document. "LISI met the Mayor through ABOODOWLEH. ABOODOWLEH also said that he was mad at LISI because he was fueling the Mayor's drug abuse," the affidavit says. Mr. Ford brought Mr. Aboodowleh, who has a history of violent crimes, onboard at Don Bosco as a football coach around 2007. Several sources have told The Globe that Mr. Aboodowleh served as Mr. Lisi's "enforcer." The Toronto Catholic District School Board says it was unaware of Mr. Aboodowleh's criminal past because it was supplied with a false name for the police check.
Bruno Bellissimo: In late March, Mayor Ford arrived after hours at the Toronto West Detention centre, and, according to a number of sources, indicated he wanted to meet with Mr. Bellissimo, who was jailed on assault charges after his March 2 arrest and is described in the affidavit as a "self-admitted 'crack user.'" According to Mr. Bellissimo's mother, the mayor and her son have been friends "since Bruno was small." In the afternoon before the attempted detention centre visit, the mayor and Mr. Lisi spoke three times. Between March 18 and June 14, Mr. Lisi and Mr. Bellissimo made five points of telephone contact, each time originating with Mr. Lisi.
Xhejski Hasko: Mr. Lisi and Xhejski Hasko, Mr. Ford's special assistant, had phone contact five times in one day during the 44-day period stretching Aug. 7 to Sept. 19.