What police say the infamous video shows
The video that has consumed municipal politics in Canada’s largest city for the past 10 months is just a minute long and shows Toronto Mayor Rob Ford inhaling “what appears to be a narcotic” from a glass pipe, according to newly unsealed police documents. The recording – which the embattled mayor previously suggested didn’t exist – was discovered by Toronto police among deleted files under the unremarkable name of IMG_0312.mov on a laptop belonging to Mohamed Siad. Mr. Siad, 28, alleged to belong to the Dixon City Bloods gang, is believed to have shot the footage on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, at 7:57 p.m. He tried to sell it to several media outlets.
The new police documents, ordered released by an Ontario Superior Court judge Wednesday, provide the first official police description of the video, which was secretly filmed. According to the police account, the footage shows Mr. Ford holding a glass cylinder in one hand and a lighter in the other. He raises the pipe to his mouth and applies a flame to the tip in a circular motion.
“After several seconds Mayor FORD appears to inhale the vapour which is produced, then exhale vapour,” the police affidavit states.
At the end of the recording, the mayor’s “attention is drawn towards an illuminated electronic device” – perhaps another cellphone – that quickly passes in front of the phone that police believe was used to record him.
“He then drops the glass cylinder and lighter on a table next to him; he briefly points at the camera and asks if it’s on,” the documents say.
Earlier in the video, Mr. Ford talks to people off-camera. Police believe one of those individuals was Elena Basso, whose family has long ties to Mr. Ford. The mayor also says the name “Liban,” a likely reference to Liban Siyad, 22, an alleged member of the Dixon City Bloods who investigators believe was in the room.
Mr. Siad’s laptop was seized in mid-June during raids related to Project Traveller, a year-long guns-and-drugs investigation. But for more than four months, the computer sat unexamined in the force’s intelligence unit until Detective John Menard, supervisor of the technological crime section, did a forensic examination on Oct. 29. The detective also found “some pictures of a firearm,” the affidavit says, without elaborating.
Two days later, the mayor’s friend, Alessandro Lisi, was arrested and charged with extortion for alleged unsuccessful efforts to obtain the video.
A second video describes filming the first
Just 20 minutes after secretly recording the mayor smoking from a glass pipe, the man behind the video openly boasted about his exploits while staring into the same cellphone camera.
Sitting alone in a vehicle, Mr. Siad recorded a 25-second video describing how he had just filmed Mr. Ford in a compromising position, according to a police affidavit.
“SIAD advises that to record someone secretly you should aim the camera towards that person and they won’t know what you’re doing as your [sic] just playing with your phone,” the document says.
“He then advises that’s how you would catch a person slipping. He then goes on to say ‘or even catch a Mayor smoking crack.’ ”
The video, recorded at 8:17 p.m. on Feb. 17, 2013, is one of five recordings recovered from Mr. Siad’s laptop. Three of the videos “cut out after a short period of time,” the affidavit says, “merely failed attempts to record Mayor FORD” in the minutes leading up to the one of him smoking from a glass pipe.
A sixth video is missing. Police computer forensic experts weren’t able to recover it from Mr. Siad’s computer, the affidavit notes. Based on the sequential file numbers, the recording was made after the video of the mayor allegedly smoking crack cocaine and before the one in which Mr. Siad speaks about how he was able to film the mayor.
Police believe the missing video “may shed further light into what occurred that day.”
Investigators suspect drug trafficking
During months of surveillance last year, police spotted Mr. Ford and Mr. Lisi meeting at all hours of the day and night, in parks, at gas stations, and in school parking lots. At times, Mr. Lisi, then the mayor’s driver, delivered goods in envelopes and white plastic bags to Mr. Ford.
The contents of those packages are not known. But in the affidavit, filed in court in January to obtain new search warrants, police allege for the first time that the frequent phone and in-person contact between Mr. Ford and Mr. Lisi was “indicative to that of drug trafficking.”
The police documents do not elaborate on the allegation. Mr. Ford admitted in the fall that he has smoked crack cocaine, probably “in a drunken stupor.” He also admitted to buying illegal drugs while in office and to using “a lot” of marijuana, although he did not disclose when the drug use took place.
Mr. Ford, who has not been charged, maintains he is not addicted to drugs or alcohol.
About that home invasion
The Bassos and the mayor go way back. Mr. Ford has known Fabio Basso since high school. Mr. Basso’s brother, Enzo, works at Deco Labels and Tags, the Ford family business. When their father died, Mr. Ford attended the funeral.
These details stem from newly released police interviews with Mr. Basso and his sister, Elena. The family’s Etobicoke bungalow at 15 Windsor Rd. has been the subject of police scrutiny. Toronto police allege the dwelling is a crack house. It’s believed the video of the mayor allegedly smoking crack cocaine was filmed inside the bungalow. On May 21 of last year, five days after reports of the video were published in the media, the bungalow and its residents were the target of a home invasion.
A lot of mystery remains about the attack. No one has been arrested. But police interviews with the Bassos, along with a police report on the incident, provide new details on what happened that night.
The attack occurred before 11 p.m. A muscular black man, around 30 years old, knocked on the door and asked for “Fabio.” When Mr. Basso’s mother told the man her son wasn’t home, he pushed the elderly woman aside and headed for Mr. Basso’s bedroom. The man pummelled Mr. Basso and his girlfriend with a steel pipe. Mr. Basso feared he would be shot.
Mr. Basso suffered a cut to his left cheek, a welt on his head, and possibly a dislocated thumb. His girlfriend received a large welt on the side of her head. Mr. Basso told police he didn’t know the attacker. The intruder, he claimed, didn’t ask for anything.
The investigation continues
Ten months after Project Brazen 2 began, the Toronto police investigation of the mayor remains ongoing, now with oversight from the Ontario Provincial Police.
The police affidavit reveals that the probe recently zeroed in on the Ford video and what was said about the recording between Feb. 17 and May 26 of 2013, the three months after the video was recorded. Along with seeking the mayor’s cellphone records from that period, police have asked telecommunication companies to turn over phone records belonging to Mr. Siad, Mr. Siyad and Mohamed Farah, three men believed to have tried to sell the Ford video. The trio were among about 60 people arrested last year in Project Traveller.
Police also want to comb through the cellphone activity of Mr. Lisi and two of the mayor’s former staff members, David Price and Tom Beyer. Mr. Beyer left the mayor’s office earlier this month. In the affidavit, police note Mr. Beyer and Mr. Lisi were in communication between May 16 and May 18, when police allege Mr. Lisi attempted to retrieve the video.
Mr. Price, meanwhile, has known Mr. Ford and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, for more than three decades. Formerly the mayor’s director of operations and logistics, Mr. Price told Councillor Ford on May 17 that he had learned of the video’s location, according to the police document.
“Price advises that Doug Ford found this information to be interesting,” the affidavit states.