POLITICS

Sandro Lisi Trial: Ex-Undercover Cop Says It Was Hard Connecting With Rob Ford's Pal

03/25/2015 04:00 EDT | Updated 05/24/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - A former undercover officer testified on Wednesday how it took time to get connected with a friend of scandal-plagued former mayor Rob Ford, who was then under police investigation, so he could try to buy drugs.

Following not guilty pleas by Alexander (Sandro) Lisi and his co-accused, Jamshid (Jay) Bahrami, the officer described how he befriended Bahrami after approaching him in August 2013 at his west-end dry-cleaning store.

Det. Ross Fernandes told Ontario court how he placed a pack of cigarette-rolling papers in a shirt pocket in hopes of sparking a conversation about drugs. The lure worked.

Bahrami, 49, who has a degenerative and painful arthritic condition, would soon explain to Fernandes 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.

He complained that Lisi — Ford's occasional driver and bodyguard — had been "ripping him off" by overcharging for pot and that he "needed to trust somebody else." At the same time, he repeatedly described Lisi as a reliable supplier of quality marijuana.

Repeated efforts, however, to connect Lisi and Fernandes failed.

Lisi, 36, court heard, was apparently lying low in light of reports of a video that appeared to show Ford smoking crack cocaine and police were actively investigating.

"Don't you read the newspapers?" Fernandes said Bahrami told him.

"I only look at the Sunshine girls," Fernandes said he responded.

On another occasion, Bahrami tells the officer, "Sandro's got too much heat."

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 finally 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."

Ontario court judge Ramez Khawly repeatedly urged prosecutor Kerry Benzakein to get to the point.

The Crown played part of a lengthy intercept from September 2013 involving Bahrami and Fernandes in which they discussed buying or growing marijuana.

"I can help you make money," the officer tells Bahrami.

He also again urges Bahrami to connect him with Lisi.

The defence has said it will argue Bahrami was entrapped and that wiretap evidence implicating Lisi is inadmissible.

Both men were arrested in October 2013. Ford, now a city councillor, was never charged.

Lisi faces three counts: trafficking in marijuana, possession of marijuana and possession of the proceeds of crime.

Bahrami faces two counts of trafficking in marijuana and one of possessing cocaine.

The trial, which continues Thursday, had been delayed a day because Lisi did not show on Tuesday, apparently due to illness.

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