Rob Ford Alleged Crack Video: Toronto Cops Have It, Ford Says He Won't Resign

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A police document says an alleged video that appears to show Toronto Mayor Rob Ford using crack cocaine was the focus of an investigation that led to dozens of arrests. (CP)
A police document says an alleged video that appears to show Toronto Mayor Rob Ford using crack cocaine was the focus of an investigation that led to dozens of arrests. (CP)

TORONTO - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford refused to step down Thursday in the face of police confirmation that they have seized a video that media outlets have alleged appears to show him smoking crack cocaine.

After avoiding reporters on his way in to city hall shortly after noon, Ford emerged from his office hours later to face a crush of cameras and say he sees "no reason to resign."

"I wish I could come out and defend myself," he said. "Unfortunately, I can't because it's before the courts and that's all I can say right now."

Allegations of a Ford video surfaced in May when the Toronto Star and the U.S. website Gawker reported they were shown the alleged video, which was being shopped around. The mayor has previously said he does not use crack cocaine and the video does not exist.

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.

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."

Blair said they have no "reasonable" grounds to criminally charge the mayor based on the video.

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Rob Ford Shoves Photographers
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But they have charged Ford's friend and occasional driver, Alexander Lisi, with extortion for allegedly making "extortive efforts to retrieve a recording." The video will be presented in court as part of Lisi's extortion case, Blair said.

Lisi was arrested and charged earlier this month with four drug offences, including trafficking in marijuana. Court documents in that case show Toronto police opened an investigation into those allegations, headed by a senior detective.

The police document shows that friends and former staffers of Ford were concerned that Lisi was "fuelling" the mayor's alleged drug use.
The lengthy document details evidence police collected in order to get a search warrant for Lisi. The document contains allegations that 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 Fickel and tell him to tell "Sandro" that "I need to see him," Fickel 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.''

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.

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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TOMORROW:

Alexander Lisi appears in court at 9 am.

We'll have to see if members of Ford's executive or his staff resign. When the crack video scandal first emerged many members of the Mayor's staff and the exec committee stepped down.

There's of course the media circus that will also follow.

THIS WEEKEND:

Will Rob Ford and his brother appear at their weekly radio show?

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The Globe and Mail's Marcus Gee:

That video he said does not exist? It exists, its reality confirmed by no less than the chief of police. This was not the invention of media “maggots,” in the mayor’s words. A video allegedly showing the mayor of Canada’s largest city smoking crack cocaine is in the possession of the authorities.

If that were not enough, the police have compiled a staggering trove of information showing the mayor consorting with a cast of shady characters that includes Alessandro Lisi, a man who stands accused of drug offences and, now, extortion. Whether the mayor himself ends up facing criminal charges, the information in this document places a stain on his office that cannot be removed except by his speedy departure.

The Toronto Star's editorial

Mayor Rob Ford has no place left to hide. No way to excuse or deny that he was caught on video allegedly smoking crack cocaine. A copy of the footage he claimed didn’t exist is now in the possession of Toronto police.

That video, recovered from an erased hard-drive, contains “those images which were previously reported in the press,” says Police Chief Bill Blair. More specifically, the images in question were reported in the Star after the video was witnessed by reporters Kevin Donovan and Robyn Doolittle. And they show the mayor of Canada’s largest city obviously impaired, puffing on what appears to be a crack pipe while uttering racist and homophobic slurs.

The Toronto Sun's editorial

While Ford may well want to carry on and rally the “Ford Nation” to his cause, city council will be all but paralyzed if he continues in office now, pretending that nothing significant has happened.

Simply put, Toronto is more important than its mayor.

The National Post's editorial

Mayor Rob Ford has not, as his supporters had hoped, kept his personal life free of embarrassing incidents. Though we believe a public official has a right to a private life, even a complicated or troubled one, serious questions suggesting Mr. Ford’s possible involvement in criminal behaviour can no longer be dismissed on this basis. Pending a resolution to this latest crisis in Mr. Ford’s private affairs, he should step aside from his duties as mayor of Canada’s largest city.

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The answer is probably no...

From this story:

Despite the pressure on Ford, municipal law makes no provision for his forced removal from office unless he's convicted and jailed for a criminal offence.

"There's nothing we can do at this point," Municipal Affairs Minister Linda Jeffrey said at the legislature.

"The province has no power to remove anybody, and obviously we'd have to wait as the investigation unfolds as to next steps."

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"Finally, elected office is an enormous privilege and a profound responsibility. Acting dishonestly and divisively is damaging to everyone in the City. I hope the Mayor keeps that in mind as he decides what to do next."

Read his full statement

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rob ford presser

Rob Ford faces cameras outside of his office. Earlier on Thursday, police revealed that they had video of the mayor allegedly smoking crack.

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"I wish I could come out and defend myself. I can't. It's before the courts right now. That's all I can say right now."

"I have no reason to resign. I'm going to be out doing what the people elected me to do. Going to go back to return my phone calls, saving taxpayers money."

He answer no questions. Returns back to his office as reporters scream question.

"Is this appropriate behaviour for a mayor?," one reporter screams.

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Earlier this week, Mayor Rob Ford decorated his office as a haunted house for Halloween. He's still giving tours of his office to members of the public.

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bill blair

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair revealed that the police have video footage of Rob Ford that appears to match media reports.

Nathan Denette/CP

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Needless to say, social media erupted over the Rob Ford news this morning.

Here's a roundup.

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This is a sad day for the City of Toronto. As a Torontonian, and as a City Councillor for more than 20 years, it pains me to see the City of Toronto in the situation we currently face, and to see Council and the City of Toronto cast in this light on national television.

It is very unfortunate that the City and its residents have once again been thrown into such a state of uncertainty.

The Mayor of Toronto has a profound credibility problem. He is going to have to face Torontonians, and Council.

Our City deserves better.

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Councillor Paula Fletcher said to press that Ford should "step up and act like a mayor."

"I think many people have given the mayor the benefit of the doubt... That day is over," she said to media.

Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby said:

"I want the mayor to apologize to the people of Toronto. No one can deny, the story is now true.".

Earlier today councillor Shelley Carroll said the mayor must resign.

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Lisi is also facing drug-related charges. He has worked for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in the past.

It is alleged that: - the accused made extortive efforts to retrieve a recording Alexander Lisi, 35, of Toronto, is charged with: 1. Extortion

He is scheduled to appear in court at Old City Hall, on a date/time not yet determined.

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From a full chronology of Rob Ford scandals...

May 16, 2013: Reports surface in both the Toronto Star and U.S.-based news site Gawker that Ford was seen on video smoking what appears to be crack cocaine. The Toronto Star also reported that Ford can be heard referring to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau in disparaging terms. The video could not be independently verified, as the purported videographer was demanding a six-figure dollar amount for it. Ford has denied allegations of drug use and said the video does not exist. To date it has not surfaced.

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Media reports have said that the mayor went in through the back door, evading the dozens of journalists waiting outside his office.

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Related on HuffPost:

Best Photos From Rob Ford Crack Scandal
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