A Stoney Creek man has been swept up in a police probe into Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s drug use and his alleged links to gangs, shedding light on Hamilton connections to the scandal.
On October 26, Toronto police arrested Andrei Dascaluta, 34, of Stoney Creek, and charged him with trafficking marijuana, possession of proceeds of crime and failure to comply with an undertaking, said Const. Wendy Drummond, a spokesperson with the Toronto Police Service.
Drummond wouldn’t comment on the circumstances that led up to the Dascaluta’s arrest. However, police documents surrounding the drug arrest of Ford’s friend and former driver Alexander Lisi allege that on Sept. 4, a man driving a car registered to Dascaluta was involved in supplying marijuana to an undercover cop.
Police arrested Lisi, 35, on Oct. 1 and raided a dry cleaning store in Richview Square, the Etobicoke plaza where the September sting had taken place. He faces several drug charges, including trafficking and possession of marijuana. Officers also took Jamshid Bahrami, owner of Richview Dry Cleaners, into custody and charged him with drug-related offences.
Police had been monitoring Lisi’s activities for months as part of the Project Brazen 2 investigation. The probe was launched in May in response to the first media reports about the existence of a video in which Toronto’s mayor appears to smoke from a crack pipe.
Hamilton links to Sept. drug sting
In documents used to obtain search warrants, police say Ford and Lisi were in regular contact throughout the summer. Police say their surveillance also showed Lisi dropping off unidentified packages for the mayor and meeting him surreptitiously at locations close to Ford’s Etobicoke home.
Those same documents — which have come to light after a Superior Court Justice Ian Nordheimer ordered much of their contents released — suggest Lisi’s suspected drug-dealing operation has connections to Hamilton. The documents contain allegations that have not been proven in court.
As part of its investigation into Lisi, whom police believe was selling marijuana through Bahrami’s shop, police arranged for an undercover cop to buy pot at the plaza on Sept. 4.
According to the documents, the undercover officer went to Richview Cleaners looking to buy a pound of marijuana through Bahrami. A man named Barbudan Dima, of Etobicoke, arrived at the plaza in green Volvo with a toddler in tow, and confirmed the arrangements with the uncover officer, the document says.
A short time later, police say, an “unknown man” driving a Mazda appeared with the marijuana.
After the pot changed hands, police say, drug squad officers trailed the two men as they drove away from the plaza.
According to the documents, police later identified the Mazda as belonging to Dascaluta. The 34-year-old is out on bail in relation to 2012 fraud charges he faces in Halton. His bail conditions stipulate that he not leave the City of Hamilton.
The documents suggest an additional link to Hamilton. According to police, Dima, 37, whose home address is in Etobicoke, was seen driving a Volvo registered to 387 Barton St. E in Stoney Creek. That address belongs to Barbara Caffe, a restaurant and catering service.
Police arrested Dima on Oct. 6, said Drummond, and charged him with drug trafficking and possession of the proceeds of crime.
CBC Hamilton contacted the Barbara Caffe on Wednesday afternoon. A manager, who identified himself as "Joe," said he has "never seen" Dima and doesn't know him.
He said the restaurant uses about 15 cars for its catering operations.
Joe said he first learned about his business's alleged link to Dima from a report in Wednesday's Toronto Star.
"I’m devastated," he said. "I haven’t got a clue what the hell is going on."