NEWS

Rob Ford crack scandal: The lingering questions

11/06/2013 01:25 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford finally admitted Tuesday he had used crack cocaine, five months after news reports surfaced that he was caught on video purportedly smoking from a crack pipe.

Whether Ford had used the illegal drug was a key question in the video scandal surrounding the mayor of Canada's largest city. But numerous other questions remain unanswered, including: 

Why does Ford appear in a photo alongside suspected gang members, outside a building that police believe is a crack house?

On May 16, U.S. gossip website Gawker.com and the Toronto Star published stories about a video allegedly showing the mayor smoking from a crack pipe. Both media outlets said the video was being shopped around by an unnamed source.

A photo was distributed to both media outlets showing the mayor alongside Smith, who was shot and killed on March 28. Two other men in the photo were subsequently arrested in a series of predawn police raids targeting guns and gangs in the city's west end.

The photo is believed to have been taken outside 15 Windsor Rd., a building that police suspect was a crack house.

On the night of Smith's death, police say members of a rival gang to the Dixon City Bloods — the gang that was the focus of the raids — became involved in a fight at a downtown night club with Smith and another man, Mohammad Khattak, who was injured in the shooting.

Who was Alexander Lisi allegedly trying to extort?

Toronto police allege Lisi, Ford's friend and occasional driver who is also known as Alessandro or Sandro, "made extortive efforts to retrieve a recording."

Lisi is on trial for extortion and a number of other charges relating to drug trafficking. It's believed the extortion charge is related to Lisi's efforts to obtain the purported crack video, but it's not clear who, according to police, Lisi was trying to extort and why.

One clue may lie in a lengthy document, released publicly last week, filed by police in their efforts to obtain a search warrant that resulted in Lisi's arrest on drug charges. It alleges that the 35-year-old sent multiple text messages and made a number of phone calls to Mohamed Siad, identified by police reports as one of the people they believe tried to sell the alleged crack video.

The allegations contained in the police document have not been proven in court.

Was Ford paying the utilities bills at a suspected crack house?

The police document also says that police came across a notebook with information relating to the suspected crack house.

“In the first entry from January 7th, 2013 it lists contacting the water department for 15 Windsor Rd in relation to the water department,” the document says. “In the last entry from March 20, 2013 it appears to be a list of bills outstanding for 15 Windsor Rd.”

Information about the origin of the notebook has been redacted in the police document. However, it does say that the notebook entries could indicate "that the Mayor is dealing with house maintenance and bill payment at 15 Windsor Rd.”

What did authorities learn from the plea deal with Nisar Hashimi, who was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Smith?

In June, Nisar Hashimi pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter for the shooting death of Smith. The plea deal came more than two months after Hashimi turned himself in to police.

The prosecutor told the court that Toronto police completed a competent investigation and that based on a review of the evidence, a manslaughter conviction "properly" addressed Hashimi's legal culpability.

During the court proceedings, the Crown revealed police believed Smith and his associates were members for the Dixon City Bloods gang, and that Smith was taking instructions from them.

It's believed by some friends of Smith that he may have had the purported video of Ford smoking a crack pipe stored on his cellphone.

However, the plea deal meant that evidence against Hashimi was not presented in open court.

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