Undercover officer cross-examined at trial of Alexander Lisi, Jamshid Bahrami
Two men face drug-related charges, both have pleaded not guilty
The drug investigation that saw Rob Ford's friend and an Etobicoke drycleaner arrested at the height of the crack-tape scandal was built in part on a deception that saw an undercover Toronto police officer cozy up to one of the accused.
That police officer told a court during cross-examination on Thursday that he was simply playing the part of a drug trafficker, as he worked to win the trust of one of the targets in the investigation.
But the lawyer for Jamshid Bahrami suggested that to many, it may have looked like the officer was trying to be his client's friend.
Your whole persona is a fraud, a deliberate fraud.- Jacob Stilman, lawyer for Jamshid Bahrami
The trial of Alexander (Sandro) Lisi and Bahrami began this week, nearly a year and a half after their arrest in October 2013.
Lisi, a friend and occasional driver for the city's former mayor, and Bahrami have both pleaded not guilty to several drug-related charges. The Crown dropped a conspiracy charge against both men at the start of the trial.
The Crown called Det. Ross Fernandes to testify this week. The defence began cross-examining him on Thursday.
Bahrami's lawyer, Jacob Stilman, spent much of the afternoon asking Fernandes about a variety of subjects, including the relationship he'd built up with the 49-year-old Bahrami over the course of a six-week period.
The court heard about how Fernandes and Bahrami had lunch together, that they smoked cigarettes and talked about life — including about Bahrami's family and his medical condition.
But Stilman also said that during this time, Fernandes was not the person he was presenting himself as.
"Your whole persona is a fraud, a deliberate fraud," Stilman said to the officer at one point, with Fernandes agreeing with his assertion.
Over the course of the investigation, Fernandes estimated that he spent between 10 and 15 hours at Bahrami's drycleaning shop.
Yet throughout that time, the officer said he never saw Bahrami sell any marijuana.
"There was no procession of dubious characters in and out of the store?" Stilman asked during the cross-examination on Thursday.
"No," said Fernandes. "Was Mr. Bahrami a nice man? Absolutely."
Fernandes also said he never met or spoke with Lisi during the investigation.
The defence lawyer also pointed out that Fernandes had driven Bahrami to pick up his son at one point, something the officer admitted was a first for him during an undercover operation.
By the time the investigation wrapped, Fernandes bought a total of 680 grams of marijuana, for which police paid $3,100. Fernandes allegedly bought $2,200 worth of drugs from a supplier named Dan, and $900 worth of marijuana from Lisi.
The marijuana Fernandes allegedly purchased from Lisi was acquired on Oct. 1, 2013, when Bahrami told Fernandes to come pick up "some shirts" that were apparently dropped off by Lisi.
Officer questioned about investigative tactics
Stilman also quizzed Fernandes about his wider experiences in prior drug cases he'd worked on.
Fernandes admitted he'd never seen an investigation involving the use of surveillance aircraft and so-called pole cameras, some of the tactics police used to investigate Ford after reports emerged that someone had a video of the then-mayor smoking crack cocaine.
Ford, who has since become a city councillor, was never charged.
The cross-examination of Fernandes will continue on Friday. The Crown is also expected to call the officer who arrested Lisi to testify.
With files from The Canadian Press