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The case against Alessandro Lisi was put over to May 7, when trial dates will probably be set.Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Rob Ford's efforts to focus attention on his re-election efforts and put scandals behind him have suffered a setback with news he has been subpoenaed to testify at the extortion trial of his former friend Alessandro Lisi.

Mr. Ford, on a tour of a new aquatic centre at the University of Toronto's Scarborough campus Friday, confirmed that he had been served by police during a meeting at his mother's Etobicoke house.

He referred all questions to is lawyer, Dennis Morris.

"Everything now is before the courts and I suggest that you talk to Mr. Morris," he said.

Ms. Morris said he didn't know what information the mayor might have that could bolster the Crown's case against Mr. Lisi.

"This chap's charged with extortion so I have no idea why the mayor's in any way related to that, but we'll find out," he told The Canadian Press.

Mr. Lisi's preliminary hearing is set for March – long after Toronto residents go to the polls on Oct. 27.

Police allege that Mr. Lisi used threats, violence or "menaces" to try to force alleged gang members Mohamed Siad and Liban Syad to hand over a cellphone video apparently showing the mayor smoking crack cocaine.

Word of the alleged crack video first surfaced in May, 2013, in reports on the website Gawker and the Toronto Star. After months of denial, Mr. Ford confirmed in November that he used crack cocaine, an admission that led to council transferring most of his authority to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly.

Police have been investigating Mr. Ford since last year and have requested a meeting with him as part of that investigation – a request he continues to refuse.

Mr. Morris said a separate meeting with the lead investigator in the Lisi case going to trial, Detective Sergeant Gary Giroux, was pre-arranged to serve the subpoena and took place outside the home of Mr. Ford's mother last week. "The police wanted to serve him and they were doggedly determined to do so and he was served," he said.

News of the subpoena initially broke more than a month ago, prompting Mr. Ford's brother, Councillor Doug Ford, to accuse police Chief Bill Blair of leaking the information. The councillor retracted the comments and publicly apologized after Chief Blair threatened to sue.

Mr. Ford has frequently challenged police to charge him if they had any grounds to do so and Mr. Morris said he will continue to refuse to talk to police.

The lawyer called the alleged incidents "history" that happened "a long time ago."

Following a debate on Thursday hosted by the The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Region Board of Trade, Mr. Ford would not discuss the scandals or the ongoing police investigation.

"Guys, we've gone down this. This is like the oldest news around," he said.

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