TORONTO – Alessandro (Sandro) Lisi has been released on $5,000 bail.
Lisi, a friend and occasional driver for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford made a brief court appearance this morning on extortion charges related to allegations of a video appearing to show Ford smoking crack cocaine.
His next court date is set for December 6.
The judge in the case has placed a publication ban on proceedings.
Lisi, 35, was arrested on Thursday — the same day Toronto police Chief Bill Blair said investigators have uncovered what appears to be the alleged video.
Court documents released Thursday show police opened an investigation into the allegations surrounding the video, headed by Det.-Sgt. Gary Giroux.
Lisi was charged in October with four drug offences.
Blair said as a result of discovering the video, Lisi was charged with extortion and the video will be presented in that case in court.
The police chief said there are no reasonable grounds to criminally charge Ford based on the video. However, renowned criminal lawyer Clayton Ruby told CityNews it’s because police botched the investigation.
Ruby fought against Ford in his conflict-of-interest case in 2012, but ended up losing on appeal.
Media lawyer Peter Jacobsen said there’s no guarantee the public will ever see the video — it all depends on whether it is actually submitted as a court exhibit.
The Toronto Star reports if Lisi pleads guilty, the video would likely not be shown.
On Thursday, Ford told reporters at City Hall that he could not comment because the matter is before the courts. He also said there was “no reason for him to resign.”
However, legal experts say there’s nothing stopping him from saying out loud that he’s innocent.
In the past, Ford insisted he doesn’t use drugs and said the video doesn’t exist.