Mayor Rob Ford and alleged crack video target of police investigation, documents say
- Update: 11:40 a.m: Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair says police seized a hard drive during police raids in June.
- A forensic analyst was able to recover deleted files from the hard drive on Tuesday.
- Blair says one of the recovered files is a video consistent with a video previously reported by Toronto media.
- Blair says Mayor Rob Ford appears in the video.
“We have recovered a digital video file, which is consistent with that which has previously been described in media reports,” Blair said.
TORONTO – Mayor Rob Ford and an alleged video purporting to show him smoking crack cocaine have been the target of a months-long police investigation, according to documents released by an Ontario judge Thursday.
The documents are part of an information to obtain – an affidavit filed by police to justify a search warrant – and were made public after several media organizations, including Global News, fought in court to have them released.
Video: Mayor Rob Ford confronts media at his home
None of the statements in the documents have been proven in court. Ford has called the allegations “ridiculous” and said he “cannot comment on a video [he has] not seen or does not exist.”
The documents were filed in support of a search warrant connected with Ford’s friend – Alexander “Sandro” Lisi. But Lisi was not the target, the documents suggest.
In May, shortly after media reports emerged regarding the alleged video, police homicide detective Det. Gary Giroux was detailed to investigate “the matter of the Mayor Ford allegations and to substantiate any of the claims that have been made,” the documents state.
Sections of the document that could detail what Giroux may have learned have been redacted.
But the documents released do shed light on a months-long police investigation into an issue that has also consumed the public.
Read more: Complete coverage of the Rob Ford story
Police were mindful of that coverage: “The media attention on Lisi has been extensive because of his relationship to Mayor Ford and Mayor Ford’s crack allegations,” reads a statement requesting a 24-hour window in which to execute a warrant. “I have been advised that media is already at 5 Madill Street [Lisi’s home] and Richview Cleaners.”
Police documents describe the home at 15 Windsor Road in front of which the mayor was photographed with three individuals – including homicide victim Anthony Smith – as a “trap house” where “Dixon guys” often go to “’chop’ crack or just hang out and get drunk.”
Lisi was arrested on October 1 in Etobicoke and on drug-related charges. He was charged with trafficking marijuana, possession of proceeds of crime, possession of marijuana and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
Police Chief Bill Blair revealed for the first time Thursday that Lisi is also charged with extortion.
Watch: Police Chief Bill Blair talks about the video recovered during a June raid.
Police interviews with Mayor Rob Ford’s staff
The documents also reveal that Chris Fickel, a former aide to the mayor, was interviewed by police on June 28 at 51 division.
“Fickel doesn’t know where the mayor got marijuana from but has heard that “sandro” may provide the Mayor with marijuana & possibly cocaine” the documents allege. Fickel also told police he didn’t know what Lisi does for a living but because of rumours he “believes he is a drug dealer,” according to the documents.
In his interview with police, the documents state, Fickel said “the Mayor and Lisi were together a lot from January 2013 until the recent media release events (Crack Video scandal). Everyone at the office was starting to wonder who Lisi was.”
Fickel “noted that Lisi mostly talks about how much he loves the Mayor and how everyone is out to get the Mayor,” the document reads.
Much of Fickel’s interview with police is redacted from the documents.
The documents also detail two separate interviews with the mayor’s former chief of staff Mark Towhey – but much of the information is blacked out.
One unredacted line states, “Towhey had suspicions that Sandro was a drug dealer.”
Police probe Ford’s meetings with Lisi
When Lisi was arrested on drug charges a month ago, Ford described him as a “good friend”, whom he’d never seen drink or do drugs. Ford wrote Lisi a reference letter when Lisi was facing criminal charges this past summer, extolling Lisi’s role as an “exemplary” member of Ford’s 2010 campaign team, with “a great work ethic.”
But court documents released indicate some people close to the Mayor were worried Lisi was a bad influence.
Payman Aboodowleh, the volunteer football coach at Don Bosco who introduced Ford to Lisi, “said that he was mad at Lisi because he was fueling the Mayor’s drug abuse,” the documents read.
Police say they observed a heated exchange between Ford and Lisi at Centennial Park the evening of Aug. 14, – shortly after the release of a video showing Ford at the Taste of the Danforth -when Ford was there watching his child’s soccer game.
“The two met for almost an hour, at times the conversations appeared to be somewhat heated (arms flailing, pointing fingers etc.),” the documents read.
“Lisi at one point gave Mayor Ford his cellular phone to look at; the Mayor did so and handed it back to Lisi after a few seconds. The conversation continued, interrupted occasionally be the Mayor answering his own cellular phone. Lisi was observed on occasion texting on his phone.”
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