Mayor Rob Ford said he was “surprised” by the drug-related charges against his friend and occasional driver Alexander Lisi and didn’t deny that he visits the accused several times a week.
“I’m surprised. It’s before the courts…obviously I can’t say much,” he told reporters at a hastily-arranged news conference at a gas station near his Etobicoke home.
“He’s a friend. He’s a good guy and I don’t throw my friends under the bus,” Ford said Wednesday.
Lisi and Jamshid Bahrami, 47, were arrested Tuesday. Lisi was charged with trafficking in marijuana, possession of proceeds of crime, possession of marijuana and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
Bahrami was charged with possession of cocaine, three counts of trafficking marijuana and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
They both appeared appeared at the Old City Hall courthouse on Wednesday afternoon. Lisi and was granted $5,000 bail. He’ll be back in court on November 12. His bail conditions include not possessing weapons or drugs, and not more than one cellphone. He must also refrain from contacted the co-accused in the case.
Bahrami is being held on a prior warrant and will appear in court again on Thursday.
CityNews has learned that Lisi, 35, is currently on probation after he was convicted in June 2013 of uttering death threats. He is currently appealing that conviction.
Despite that revelation, Ford maintained that Lisi’s latest brush with the law was out of character.
“He’s straight and narrow and I’ve never once seen the guy drink. I’ve never seen him once take drugs,” Ford said.
Ford also lashed at out reporters for seeking his response to the overnight arrest.
“You know what bothers me? You guys are coming to my house. My front door. Don’t come to my front door again. That’s pretty low.
Ford answered a few questions before leaving the news conference, saying he will be heading to Austin for a two-day music business mission.
Police executed search warrants at an Etobicoke dry cleaner’s and at a residence on Tuesday evening.
Lisi was arrested during the raid at 250 Wincott Dr. in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation, police said Wednesday, declining further comment. Lisi’s lawyer Domenic Basile declined to comment on Wednesday morning.
According to a report by the Toronto Star, Lisi was one of two members of Ford’s entourage involved in an attempt to obtain an alleged video purportedly showing the mayor smoking crack cocaine shortly after the scandal broke in May. A witness reportedly told the Star that Lisi had visited a group of known drug dealers and asked about the whereabouts of the people who made the alleged video.
Lisi’s lawyer confirmed at the time that his client was involved in a police investigation but would not give specifics.
Days after the story broke, Ford said he didn’t use cocaine, and couldn’t comment on a video he hadn’t seen or that didn’t exist.
The Star has previously reported that the mayor is said to have told close confidants that he knew where the video was and provided two addresses.
In June, police launched a series of raids targeting gangs and one of the addresses raided was a Toronto apartment complex on Dixon Road where the alleged video was reported to be located.
Police have refused to say if Ford was in any way part of the so-called Project Traveller investigation.
With files from The Canadian Press