Toronto Mayor Rob Ford became the focus of a months-long police investigation after an alleged video surfaced that appears to show him smoking crack cocaine, according to court documents released Thursday.
That video is now in the hands of Toronto Police, Chief Bill Blair said in a surprise announcement on Thursday morning.
Detective Sergeant Gary Giroux, one of the Toronto Police Service’s most experienced investigators, began looking into allegations involving Mr. Ford after Gawker and The Toronto Star reported in May that a drug dealer tried to sell them a video that purportedly shows the mayor smoking crack cocaine.
“Detective Sergeant Giroux was detailed to investigate the matter of the Mayor Ford allegations and to substantiate any of the claims that have been made,” the document says.
The documents show that Mr. Ford appears multiple times in police surveillance of Alexander (Sandro) Lisi, his close friend and occasional driver.
The revelations are contained in police documents related to Mr. Lisi’s arrest that were released Thursday morning. The information, which is partially redacted, sheds light on links between Mr. Lisi and the mayor.
The affidavit, referred to as an Information to Obtain (ITO), is the result of an investigation, dubbed Brazen 2, that reached all the way to the mayor’s office and sent reverberations throughout the city’s corridors of power.
The information contained in the 480-page document, which investigators wrote to obtain search warrants in their case against Mr. Lisi, has not been proven in court. Taken as a whole, the ITO details numerous meetings and exchanges between the mayor and Mr. Lisi, who police refer to as a drug dealer in the document.
On June 26, for instance, police allege that Mr. Lisi met the mayor at a soccer game in Centennial Park. After speaking for a few minutes, Mr. Lisi retrieved a white plastic bag from his Range Rover loaded with unknown items and some cans of Minute Maid, and left them on the center console of Mr. Ford’s Cadillac.
On July 11, Mr. Lisi met with Rob Ford at the Esso Gas Station near Mr. Ford’s home. Mr. Lisi placed a manila envelope in the passenger side of Mr. Ford’s Cadillac while the mayor was inside the Esso. The meeting was observed by surveillance officers and caught on the gas station’s security cameras.
In addition to their many meetings, the ITO outlines a flurry of phone communication between the two men. Between Aug. 7 and Sept. 19, the mayor and Mr. Lisi contacted one another 349 times by phone.
On Mar. 28, the morning Anthony Smith was murdered, Mr. Ford and Mr. Lisi talked by phone on seven occasions. A photo later emerged in news reports showing Mr. Ford standing with Anthony Smith and two other men outside 15 Windsor Rd., a residence referred to in the document as a crack house.
The document also emphasizes heightened activity on Mr. Lisi’s cell phone after Gawker.com and the Toronto Star published stories about the crack video. The calls start on May. 16, the day the story surfaced online. The mayor called Mr. Lisi twice that afternoon. Mr. Lisi, in turn, placed several calls to Fabio Basso, who lives at the address where Mr. Ford was photographed alongside homicide victim Anthony Smith and two other men. The ITO identifies the home as a crack house. Following several calls to Mr. Basso, Mr. Lisi begins calling Mohamed Siad, one of the men who police believed was trying to sell the crack video.
Information not available to regular citizens
In one segment of the document, police allege that Mr. Ford used his staff to try and extract information from the Toronto police service about the surveillance that was being conducted on him and his friend Mr. Lisi, the police have alleged in the search warrant materials.
The police believe that on Aug. 18, Mr. Lisi and Mr. Ford, who were meeting with a third associate, observed them monitoring the meeting in a school parking lot, the affidavit states. When the surveillance officers departed the scene, “Mayor Ford was observed continuing at a high rate of speed north on Duffield Road, the last known direction of the surveillance vehicle.”
Several days later, a Detective Harris received a phone call from the mayor’s chief of staff, Earl Provost, who said that the mayor believed he was being followed and wanted more information about the vehicle that he believed was tracking his movements. When the police refused to provide the information, Mr. Provost said that the mayor was “getting angry… because he can’t give him what he wants.”