Toronto mayor Rob Ford appears on deleted video 'smoking from crack pipe'

Video and computer to be turned over to the court where mayor's friend and driver faces drug and extortion charges

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 November, 2013, 4:27am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 November, 2013, 11:45am

Toronto's police chief said yesterday they have recovered a video deleted from a computer that appears to show Mayor Rob Ford smoking from a crack pipe.

Police chief Bill Blair said he was "disappointed" after viewing the video, but that there was nothing in the video that would provide grounds to press charges. Blair said the video would come out when Ford's friend and sometimes driver, Alexander Lisi, goes to trial on drug and extortion charges. Blair did not say who the computer belonged to or provide more details.

He said the video, recovered from a computer hard drive, "depicts images that are consistent with those previously reported in the press".

Ford faced allegations in May that he had been caught on video puffing from a glass crack pipe. Two reporters with the Toronto Star said they saw the video, but it has not been released publicly. Ford maintains he does not smoke crack and that the video does not exist.

Ford angrily yelled at reporters yesterday to get off his property before he left his house in the morning. He did not respond to questions shouted at him.

Police earlier released documents showing they had rummaged through Ford's garbage in search of evidence of drug use and that they conducted a massive surveillance operation monitoring the mayor and Lisi following the allegations.

In the documents, police said reports of the video triggered an investigation that led to several arrests and detailed evidence that led to Lisi's arrest on marijuana trafficking and possession charges.

Blair said Lisi had since been charged with extortion, but declined to elaborate on the new charge.

The police documents, ordered released by a judge, show Ford receiving suspicious packages from Lisi on several occasions.

"Lisi approached the driver's side of the mayor's vehicle with a small white gift bag in hand; he then walked around to the passenger side and got on board," reads one document dated July 30, 2013. "After a few minutes Lisi exited the Escalade empty-handed and walked back to his Range Rover."

Another dated July 28 says Lisi "constantly used countersurveillance techniques" when he met with Ford that day.

On August 13, documents say Lisi and Ford met and "made their way into a secluded area of the adjacent woods where they were obscured from surveillance efforts and stayed for approximately one hour".

Ford recently vouched for Lisi in a separate criminal case, praising his leadership skills in a letter filed with the court. The letter was part of a report prepared by a probation officer after Lisi was convicted of threatening to kill a woman.

In reports that have dominated Toronto's political scene for months, US media blog Gawker and the Toronto Star newspaper said in May that their reporters were shown a video that appeared to show Ford smoking crack cocaine.

Reporters at Gawker and the Star said the video was shown to them by a man who had contacted them and offered to sell it to them. The Star declined to pay for the video. Gawker subsequently raised funds to buy the video, but was unable to re-establish contact with the seller. Since then, there had been no confirmation that the video exists.

The documents also say that 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".