Rob Ford’s alleged drug dealer is running for school board trustee in Doug Ford’s old ward

Sandro Lisi, one of several shady figures at the centre of the Rob Ford crack scandal, is running in Doug Ford's old Etobicoke North backyard – must be a coincidence

It’s just like old times with Doug Ford now occupying the premier’s chair, which is to say that the shit show the premier has made of the Toronto elections just got crazier.

It seems it’s not enough for Doug to cut the crap out of city council so that more right-wing councillors to his liking can be elected. He wants to stack the school board, too, with like-minded trustees. Or, at least, it appears that one key figure in late brother Rob’s sordid past thinks that the political landscape has shifted enough with Doug as king of Ontario that it’s a good time to try his hand at politics – despite a record that includes a conviction for criminal harassment for threatening to break a woman’s legs. 

Enter Sandro Lisi, Rob’s sometime driver, alleged former drug dealer and central figure in the crack video scandal that made worldwide headlines, who has registered to run for Toronto District School Board trustee in Doug’s former ward in Etobicoke North. Must be a coincidence, or not. The ward also happens to be the one represented by Doug’s nephew, Michael Ford, when he served as trustee. He now represents the area as city councillor.  

Lisi told Canadaland’s Jonathan Goldsbie, who first reported  Lisi’s newfound appreciation for the power of politics that, “My time spent with Rob has had a big influence on me. I look at politics totally different now. It’s about helping people. I like that.” 

He went on. “I see schools around my neighbourhood closing down. Violence in the schools concerns me. I think I can make a difference.” For the people?

That’s some twist coming from Lisi. To refresh: Lisi was the cat who was charged with several drug-related offences and one extortion charge over his alleged efforts to retrieve the infamous video of Rob hoovering on a crack pipe. 

He was acquitted of the marijuana charges and the extortion charge was withdrawn in 2016 after a drawn out legal process. His lawyer at the time, Domenic Basile, claimed that Lisi was “collateral damage” in the Ford affair. Police documents entered in court during the investigation of Ford paint a different picture.

In those documents, Lisi is cast as loyal foot soldier of Ford, burning up cellphone lines and beating the bushes in Etobicoke in an effort to find the video after the story of its long rumoured existence had been confirmed by former New York-based blog site Gawker and then the Star. (The Star’s reporters had only viewed the video. They did not have a copy.)

Police documents released at the time revealed a mad dash to retrieve the video involving Lisi and Rob’s former head of logistics/bodyguard, David Price, a longtime friend of Doug’s. Those attempts allegedly included threatening phone calls made by Lisi to a few well-known gang figures who lived in the Dixon apartment towers that would later be the focus of a police raid.

All kinds of crazy shit was going on at the time, with the search for the video connected to a number of dirty dealings, including a jailhouse stabbing and the shooting death of Anthony Smith, a known member of the Dixon Bloods who was photographed with Rob Ford outside the Windsor Drive home of Rob’s high school bud Fabio BassoYou can read all about it here. And here.

It was at the Basso home where the crack video was reportedly shot and where Rob was  indulging his well-known appetite for crack. An unknown assailant showed up there looking for the video, too, forcing his way into the house and assaulting a man (believed to be Fabio Basso) and a woman (reportedly Basso’s girlfriend) with a steel pipe. They were taken to hospital with “non-life-threatening injuries.” No one was charged over the incident, but Price admitted visiting the Basso residence the day the crack story broke “to find out if he [Fabio Basso] knew anything about the situation.”

It’s easy to forget all that madness. Doug’s role at the time is less clear.

Doug has claimed not to know Lisi, despite the fact brother Rob wrote Lisi a reference letter stating that he had worked on Rob’s 2010 mayoral campaign that Doug co-managed. (Lisi is also related to someone who went to school with the premier.) Lisi, in fact, volunteered for Doug when Doug ran for mayor in 2014, although Lisi didn’t want anyone to know about it, hiding in the bushes when he was spotted by a rival campaign team putting up a Ford campaign sign. 

A Globe investigation published in 2103 laid out the Ford family’s history of involvement in drugs and violence, including Doug’s alleged history as a mid-level hash dealer in the 80s, and his sister’s alleged mob connections. Doug has denied the allegations but never did follow through on a threat to sue. You know what they say about shit. It tends to flow down hill. | @enzodimatteo

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