The man who became famous for his sidekick role in one of the most scandalous periods in Toronto history is running to be a school board trustee in Etobicoke.
Alexander (Sandro) Lisi, who was former mayor Rob Ford’s friend and occasional driver, is now running to be the Toronto District School Board trustee in Ward 1 (Etobicoke North), he confirmed Saturday.
It was the extortion case against Lisi that allowed, years later, the infamous crack video to be released. A half-full courtroom of students and journalists saw it for the first time during a pretrial hearing.
“He was collateral damage,” his lawyer at the time, Domenic Basile, said of Lisi in 2016. “He was somebody caught in the middle and he was the only one charged. It’s caused irreparable harm to him and his family.”
The case centred on a call Lisi made, caught on police wiretaps, in which he told a man who lived in the Dixon Rd. area and who was believed to know about the video: “You see the heat on Dixon, bro? … It’s gonna get worse, bro … tell all your boys it’s going to get worse and worse.” Liban Siyad, the man on the other end of the call, testified at the pretrial hearing that he had never felt threatened.
Siyad pleaded guilty in 2014 to trafficking cocaine, participating in a criminal organization (the Dixon City Bloods) for the purpose of trafficking cocaine, and conspiracy to traffic guns, the Star reported at the time.
In 2013, Ford wrote a letter for Lisi when he was being sentenced for threatening to kill a woman, saying Lisi had “worked hard both in and out of the campaign office” during Ford’s 2010 mayoral run. Lisi was sentenced to two years’ probation and a five-year weapons ban, and ordered to attend an anger management program.
Lisi was also convicted in 2001 of criminal harassment and threatening a young woman. One of the reported threats was “I’m going to break your legs, you –ing bitch.” He was sentenced to 15 days in jail and three years’ probation.
He pleaded guilty the following year to threatening, assault and criminal harassment of a young woman whom he punched in the eye. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, on top of 45 days he had spent in pretrial custody.
Election rules do not prevent candidates with criminal records from running for office.
Lisi was otherwise known to police as a low-level drug dealer in north Etobicoke, facing drug possession charges that were frequently withdrawn.
He dropped out of Richview Collegiate Institute in Grade 11, later taking classes at Scarlett Heights Collegiate.
Police documents released in 2013 showed that Lisi and Ford were frequently surveilled when Ford was mayor, meeting in high school parking lots and behind Scarlett Heights. On one occasion, police said they found two empty vodka bottles in a plastic bag discarded by Ford.
The former mayor died in 2016. Lisi has rarely spoken to the media, at one point leading reporters on a prolonged chase outside a courthouse. He was polite in a short exchange with a reporter about his run for trustee.
Nominations for the Oct. 22 municipal vote closed Friday at 4:30 p.m. after a chaotic period in which Premier Doug Ford, Rob’s brother, interfered in an ongoing election to cut the number of Toronto city council wards to 25 from 47.
Also running for the Ward 1 trustee position are Zakaria Abdulle, Akhtar Ayub, Pat Brar, Ankit Dhawan, Harpreet Gill, Kim King, Rajinder Lall, Ali Mohamed-Ali and Millicent Quist.
Jennifer Pagliaro is a Toronto-based reporter covering city politics. Follow her on Twitter: @jpags