A convicted criminal facing recent allegations of drug dealing sought a city job with Mayor Rob Ford’s endorsement, newly released documents reveal.
In a letter of support, Ford praised the work ethic of his friend and part time driver Alexander “Sandro” Lisi.
The letter, released by a judge on Tuesday morning, was part of the sentencing hearing for Lisi, who had been convicted of threatening to kill a woman.
Written on a City of Toronto letterhead, Ford wrote that Lisi was an “exemplary member of my campaign team where he displayed exceptional leadership skills.”
The mayor wrote he has known Lisi for several years and that he has always conducted himself in a courteous and polite manner and that he was happy to provide a character reference for him.
Lisi used the letter as proof of his integrity during his hearing in June, and a judge sentenced him to time served and two years’ probation.
He is reportedly appealing the conviction.
Lisi was recently charged with several drug offenses. At the time, Ford said he was surprised, calling his friend “a good guy.”
Coun. Doug Ford defended his brother’s actions.
“Rob’s written numerous letter for people who have broken the law. Rob doesn’t judge people when they come to him, he doesn’t throw the book at him, he tries to help them.
“There’s a lot of people in this country that deserve a second chance that have broken the law.”
But despite Ford’s letter stating that Lisi worked on his mayoral campaign, Doug Ford said he has never met or spoken with him.
In addition to the character reference, a section of a report prepared by a probation officer said Lisi’s future plans include “working for the City of Toronto with the endorsement of his ‘close friend,’ Mayor Robert Ford.”
Lisi is described in the report as a high school dropout who has held a series of short-term jobs in landscaping, cleaning and painting.
He told the probation officer he was taking part in an anger management program, and a letter filed by an organization providing counselling said he had done “very well.”
A mandatory drug and alcohol assessment Lisi underwent as part of his probation found he didn’t appear to have a substance abuse problem, the documents show.
Many councillors questioned the mayor’s actions at City Hall. Adam Vaughan says politicians shouldn’t get involved in criminal matters while Michelle Berardinetti wonders why Ford wrote the letter.
As he was leaving his office for the day, Ford responded to the criticisms by saying “I write a lot of letters, I support a lot of people.”
The Toronto Star reported earlier this year that Lisi was looking for a video that allegedly showed Ford using crack cocaine.
Ford has said he does not use crack cocaine and that the alleged video does not exist.
The allegation surfaced in May 16 when reporters from the Star and the U.S. website Gawker reported they were shown the video.
CityNews has not verified those allegations.