Toronto police have alleged Mayor Rob Ford crack video -

Toronto police have alleged Mayor Rob Ford crack video

Chief Bill Blair says mayor doesn’t face charges


Nathan Denette/CP

TORONTO – Toronto police have seized a video of Rob Ford that media outlets have alleged appears to show him smoking crack cocaine, though Chief Bill Blair said they have no “reasonable” grounds to criminally charge the mayor.

Allegations of a Ford video surfaced in May when reporters from the Toronto Star and the U.S. website Gawker reported they were shown the video by alleged drug dealers who were shopping it around.

Newly released court documents show Toronto police opened an investigation into those allegations, headed by a senior detective.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair announced Thursday that earlier this week officers examined a hard drive seized in “Project Traveller,” a drugs and weapons investigation and recovered a digital video file of Ford that had originally been deleted.

“That file contains video images which appear to be those images which were previously reported in the press,” Blair said.

The mayor has repeatedly said he does not use crack cocaine and the video does not exist. He arrived at city hall early Thursday afternoon but did not speak to reporters gathered outside his office.

Alexander Lisi, a friend of Ford’s, was charged earlier this month with four drug offences. As a result of discovering the video, Lisi is now also charged with extortion for allegedly making “extortive efforts to retrieve a recording,” police said. The video will be presented in court as part of Lisi’s extortion case, Blair said.

Blair, who has personally watched the video, said it’s believed it relates to events at a home on Windsor Drive. The home is referred to in court documents released Thursday in Lisi’s drug case by a confidential informant as a “crack house.”

“As a citizen of Toronto I’m disappointed,” Blair said. “This is a traumatic issue for the citizens of this city and for the reputation of this city and that concerns me.”

Asked whether Ford could face charges, Blair said there’s nothing in the video that would allow police to “form reasonable grounds” to support the laying of a criminal charge.

The police document shows that friends and former staffers of Ford were concerned that Lisi was “fuelling” the Toronto mayor’s alleged drug use.

The lengthy document details evidence police collected in order to get a search warrant for Lisi, Ford’s friend and occasional driver. The document contains police allegations used to obtain search warrants, and those allegations have not been proven in court.

Ford former staffer, Chris Fickel, told police he didn’t know where Ford got marijuana from, but “has heard that ‘Sandro’ may be the person who provides the mayor with marijuana and possibly cocaine,” the document alleges.

However, Fickel added, he has never seen Lisi provide the mayor with drugs. The mayor would call Fickle and tell him to tell “Sandro” that “I need to see him,” Fickle told police.

Payman Aboodowleh, a volunteer football coach at Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School, where Ford coached the team, told police that Lisi met Ford through him. He told police he was “mad at Lisi because he was fuelling the mayor’s drug abuse,” the document says.

A photograph of the mayor with three men, one of whom — Anthony Smith — was gunned down on a city street, accompanied the Star story published in May. The other two men in the photo, which was taken in front of a house, were arrested as part of “Project Traveller.”

On March 28, the day Smith was killed, the document says Ford and Lisi spoke on the phone seven times, with the mayor initiating five of the calls.

The document says police compared that photograph to an address that a confidential informant told police was a “crack house,” and found it had the same colour, overhanging light, white trim, brick colour and pattern.

Hours after the Gawker article was published, phone records show Lisi called Mohamed Siad, who the police report says “is believed to have been one of the people trying to sell Mayor Ford crack video.” He also called one of the residents of the “crack house” several times.

The Toronto Star has identified Siad as one of the men it says showed its reporters the alleged video. Siad was arrested in June as part of Project Traveller, a massive sweep targeting gang activity.

According to the document, police were conducting surveillance on Lisi and on June 26 saw him meet with Ford at a soccer field.

They spoke for a few minutes then Lisi returned to his vehicle, retrieved a white plastic bag appearing to contain some items, put some cans of Minute Maid in it, then Lisi put the bag in Ford’s SUV, then walked back to meet up with Ford, the documents allege.

On July 11 Ford is seen on surveillance cameras parking at a gas station then walking straight to the washroom. Shortly after, Lisi arrives at the gas station. Lisi is seen walking near the mayor’s SUV holding a manila envelope.

“Lisi appears to be looking around, possibly scoping out the area,” the document says.

Lisi is then seen walking along the passenger side of the mayor’s vehicle then goes out of the surveillance tape frame and isn’t seen again. Ford spends about six minutes in the washroom then buys a pack of gum and drives away.

On July 30 police observed Lisi and Ford meet in the parking lot of the same gas station. They saw Lisi get into Ford’s SUV with a white gift bag and leave a few minutes later without the bag.

On July 28 police watched Lisi and Ford meet behind a school. After they left police seized garbage that Ford threw out and it contained two empty vodka bottles.

An Ontario Superior Court judge ordered the release of the document Wednesday following an application by media lawyers who argued it contains information that is in the public interest.

With files from Paola Loriggio.

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Toronto police have alleged Mayor Rob Ford crack video

  1. I think it’s safe to drop “alleged” from the headline

  2. How are they to determine, on a video, what is in the pipe? Can this go anywhere except denial it was other-than-weed? Maybe they have a witness?

    • Hence why they don’t have anything that they could “form reasonable grounds” on for a criminal charge.

      The court of public opinion, however, does not require such a high bar as “beyond a reasonable doubt”, and for a politician, the penalties that court can mete out are pretty serious.

      • Or that is just a temporary situation awaiting their witness to firm up…they might get him here I think.

        • They may have a problem with that. Of the people who were there, a few of them are now dead, one is currently charged with extortion, and the home owners have given every indication of being adherents to the: “if all my friends jump off a bridge, you darn betcha i’m going with them” school of cliqueishnes

      • You’d be surprised, even if he does admit that he lied about not smoking crack he can just turn to the nation, Ford Nation that is, and say “I have sinned”. Oh wait, that’s Jimmy Swaggart.

        Still, Ford Nation are a forgiving lot.

      • Or court of left-statism? I like Ford as he has the left in desperation and a tiff.

        • So then a mayor who deals with drug dealers and criminals and may have smoked crack represents right-wing values because he sends the Left in desperation?

          Excellent, good to know that right-wingers are willing to overlook unethical behaviour as long as their team is in the office. Ends justify the means eh? Who needs moral or ethical standards, that’s for the Left.

        • Now I understand your support of Harper as well – morals don’t count; just piss off anyone to the left of your views and your vote is secured.

    • What was actually in the pipe seems irrelevant unless police are intent on charging Ford with the posession and use of crack (which I think is unlikely).

      The issue (at this point based on what we know) is mostly political for Ford, not legal. Ford is the mayor, and has a duty to help keep the citizens safe. Gangs and their illegal drug trade are sources of much of the worst violence in the city. If the mayor is not only an illegal drug user but also friendly with these drug dealers even to the point of defending their character, then how can we possibly expect him to actually do his job in regards to public safety?

      Simple answer: we cannot. That is why no matter what he was smoking and whether or not he is actually charged with a crime, he really needs to step down as mayor.

      • There’s also this element: he’s spent the last six months lying about it. So, you’ve got a mayor that supports drug dealers AND who apparently has no problem wantonly misleading the public to save his skin. The honourable thing would be to step down, but I’m not sure at this point ‘honourable’ is a characteristic that guy possesses.

  3. Paging s_c_f, paging s_c_f! The Mayor needs you! Macleans is reporting on his problems again!

  4. I don’t get this…

    “As a result of discovering the video, Lisi is now also charged with extortion and the video will be presented in that case in court, Blair said.”

    If they have enough evidence to charge extortion, musn’t they also be able to prove Ford had crack? If no crack, how then the extortion?

    • If someone has allegedly attempted to extort money from another, it doesn’t matter what the apparent pretext was. The coercive act of extortion, itself, is illegal.

      • I would have thought that before charging extortion, they would have wanted to firm up that it was crack…showing the true motive to extort had a profound reason. Could be they do have that, but don’t want to prejudice it by releasing now. I expect they have more than we know.

        • More than we know right now? No doubt. There will be a lot of frantic plea bargaining and deals cut as this sorry mess wends its way through the judicial process. I suspect the Crown is hoping a few of the accused will cooperate (i.e., spill the proverbial beans) in an attempt to mitigate charges against them.

          I predict several books and a movie will be spawned in the end.

    • Based on the description, they have a video of the Mayor stoned. Several people have implied it looks like he’s on crack. Thing is, without the video showing what it was he was consuming and/or him actively consuming it, all they have is evidence that he’s stoned and the court case becomes defence and prosecutorial “experts” nitpicking the video as to what he’s on. (please note: this is not me arguing he’s not a crack head, this is me saying what’s going to happen if they try to goto court with the video alone; the video evidence would likely be interpreted as insufficient to guarantee a conviction on it’s own)

      Whereas, if they have additional evidence that shows Lisi was saying: “I’ve got this video of you stoned, pay me or I’m giving it out” then that’s extortion by default and the video becomes the information being used as the hammer.

      • Even if the video showed the drugs, that’s not sufficient evidence as all you can prove from that is what it looked like – not what it actually was.
        As for the extortion – do we know yet who Lisi was extorting? I’m still playing catch-up so that may be out there somewhere; given he was making “extortive efforts to retrieve a video” it doesn’t sound like he was extorting the Mayor (and may have even been extorting on Ford’s behalf, given the way some of the dots seem to be connecting).

    • Addendum: it looks like Lisi’s not being charged for extorting the mayor, he’s being charged with “extortive efforts to retrieve a recording” – ie: committing extortion to retrieve the video in the first place.

      • I should have kept reading before posting that last reply :-)

    • We don’t know the details of the extortion.

      It could be mostly unrelated to Ford.

      It could have been extortion OF Ford.

      It could have been extortion to get the cellphone with the video, or else Ford’s lost cellphone (assuming they were different phones)

  5. Ford Nation will really be p!ssed with the media now, especially the Toronto Star. It’s all their fault.

  6. Bad week for the Harper/Ford/Flaherty federal municipal axis.
    Hope the opposition parties are getting their advertisements set up and ready to go.

    • Harper must be relieved that the media have found another entertaining distraction right before the big ConFlab in Calgary.

      • Yea, most of the delegates not aware of the close ties and many joint appearances of Harper, Ford, Flaherty. I think Flaherty has often been characterized as “very close” to the Ford family. Of course there is the famous Harper appearance at Ford barbecue.

        • I suspect Robbie has been on his last fishing trip with his bud, Steve.

  7. What’s “Ford Nation” without Rob Ford?

    • Don’t count out Rob Ford…yet. I’ll bet that if he doesn’t go to jail, he will make a comeback. and many people will happily vote for him because they are emotionally invested.

      • Of course he will, ever hear of Marion Barry?

  8. I smell some real stink here – was Mayor Ford involved with the Mafia?

    • Why wouldn’t we expect the precedent of Montreal to exist in Toronto?

  9. Just because the police claim to have the video doesn’t say much. 1) is the video doctored and cooked or looks legit? 2) If legit is is accurate to the accusations or not?

    Ford might want to get a copy for his lawyers.

    But then looks like back room criminals want Ford out. I guess he isn’t feeding the Toronto city governemtn corruption and union bloat enough. As if Ford was a Liberal or NDP, the media would overlook it as the others people money would flow easy.

    This is the Streisand Effect. Part of why we love Ford is he has the left in a twist and willing to do anything in the pursuit of statism. I still would vote Ford as at least we are getting entertainment for our money.

    • If it’s true — and, sorry if I don’t accept massive union/cop/media conspiracy as a plausible explanation, but the wishful thinking of shellshocked conservatives — he’s spent the last several months lying to you. And you appear to be OK with it.

      Ford Nation: Blind As Ever. They can’t even figure out when they’ve been betrayed.


      Rob Ford to Doug: “Now we really got the left in a twist, eh? This’ll show them for being willing to try anything in the pursuit of statism. We’ve turned their tawdry little burg into the laughing stock of the world!”

  10. What happens next?

    I predict RoFo disappears into “rehab”. It’ll be announced by his usual mouthpiece, Doug.

  11. Its about time. Thanks for the. Toronto police so now what is he gonna say. Oh let me say it for him it was not me

  12. Hi Allison,

    I wonder what’s the point in all these allegations by the
    media, and now by the police, if it fails to have any effect on Mayor Ford? In
    spite of the existence of this video now being proven, and his admittance to
    smoking crack cocaine he continues to deny he is addictions, alcohol and illegal
    substances – what more proof does he need to resign?

    It’s quite apparent that the police have spent considerable
    effort in collecting evidence, and I’m just glad they managed to transform
    allegations into whole truths. Looks like you can’t dismiss IT forensics as
    stuff from science fiction anymore. This
    article here
    helped me understand just how essential this technology
    is to solving crimes in today’s day and age.