Police move to seize pizza shop at centre of drug raid
A downtown Toronto pizza shop won't be closing anytime soon, but it has been effectively seized by the federal government after police claimed the popular take-out restaurant was being used as a front for a criminal operation.
Police raided Pizza Gigi, at 189 Harbord St. in the Annex, in February and seized more than $1 million worth of marijuana, and other drugs including crack cocaine, OxyContin and ecstasy.
Police have alleged that the owner, 57-year-old Salvatore Crimi, was using the business as a front to sell drugs.
On Thursday, Toronto police's asset forfeiture unit announced that they will be seeking forfeiture of the property upon the conviction of the accused.
The motion restricts the sale of the building until the end of court proceedings. If Crimi is found guilty, the building will become Crown property.
"It is alleged that he used the property to commit the offences, and therefore it is subject to forfeiture," Det. Richard MacCheyne said on Thursday.
"The restraint order itself encumbers the title to the property. Mr. Crimi cannot sell it, he cannot get any additional mortgages on it, he must maintain the property and take care of it."
Crimi faces 15 drug-related charges including possession, trafficking and possession of the proceeds of crime. None of the charges have been proven in court.
MacCheyne said Crimi is allowed to continue operating the pizzeria as his case winds through the court process.
Pizza Gigi closed for several weeks after the Feb. 14 raid, but had reopened by March 2.
The small shop's bright yellow building is located kitty corner to Central Technical School and its pizzas are well known in Toronto's west end.
In 2005, NOW Magazine named Pizza Gigi the city's best pie, and the February bust garnered some international attention, including a mention on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update.