Toronto

Sandro Lisi has extortion charge dropped, allowing release of Rob Ford drug video

The Crown dropped an extortion charge against Alexander (Sandro) Lisi in court on Thursday, paving the way for the release of a video of former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine.

Crown says case weakened by witnesses not co-operating

Sandro Lisi, back centre, had an extortion charge against him dropped in court on Thursday. As a result, the judge allowed the release of a video of former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine. (Michelle Cheung/CBC)

The Crown dropped an extortion charge against Alexander (Sandro) Lisi in court on Thursday, paving the way for the release of a video of former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine.

Lisi was charged in 2013 in connection with his efforts to recover the infamous video, which was recorded at an Etobicoke home in February of 2013 while Ford was serving as mayor. Lisi never managed to obtain the video, which was later recovered by police during the Project Traveller raids.

A Superior Court judge ruled this morning that the video, which was entered as evidence, could be released. 

In court, the Crown said the case against Lisi was weakened because the two men he was accused of threatening, Liban Siyad and Mohamed Siad, didn't co-operate during the preliminary hearing.

Siyad and Siad covertly recorded a video of Ford using drugs at a house in Etobicoke and were hoping to sell it.

Rob Ford is seen smoking crack cocaine in a video from 2013 that was released on Thursday.
Lisi, dressed in a dark blue suit, said nothing as his lawyers defended his actions outside court.

Domenic Basile, Lisi's lawyer, said he's pleased to see the court proceedings come to an end as his client has been living with bail conditions for nearly three years.  

"He was a loyal friend of Robert Ford," Basile told reporters outside the courthouse.

"He was trying to get the tape back for his friend."

Basile also criticized what he called an "overuse" of police resources in connection with the case. During Project Brazen 2, police tailed Ford and Lisi throughout the city and at one point used an air craft to track the two men.

Basile said if his client wasn't a friend of the mayor, he wouldn't be in court today.

"At the end of the day, he was the only one charged," Basile said. 

Lisi's lawyers say if their client wasn't a friend of the mayor, he wouldn't be in court today. 1:01

Lisi had been scheduled to stand trial on the extortion charge in September. He agreed to a peace bond as part of the resolution. The conditions of the bond state he is to have no contact with Siyad or Siad, nor Fabio or Elena Basso, who own the home where the video was filmed. 

Ford, who served as mayor from 2010 to 2014, died of cancer in March while he was a councillor.