Police: Ford tried to buy ‘crack video’

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IOL pic nov19 toronto mayor rob ford


Toronto Mayor Rob Ford adjusts his tie during a special council meeting at City Hall on November 18, 2013. Picture: Aaron Harris

 Toronto - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford may have offered cash and a car to buy a video allegedly showing him using crack cocaine, according to notes from police wiretaps.

Details of the alleged offer were included in a 450-page police document released on Wednesday by an Ontario Superior Court judge after a petition by media lawyers.

Ford admitted early last month he had smoked crack cocaine, saying it was probably “in one of my drunken stupors”, but he said he is not an addict and does not need help. That and other allegations of conduct unbecoming of a public official have led to widespread protests calling for his resignation.

Ford has not been formally charged with any crimes, and he has refused to step down. He has been stripped of most of his powers by a hostile city council, but it does not have the power to unilaterally remove him.

On Wednesday, Ford walked past reporters outside his office without responding to requests for comment on the police document. A request for comment emailed to the mayor's office was not answered.

The existence of an alleged video was initially reported in May by the Toronto Star newspaper and media website Gawker. Ford said at the time that he could not comment on a video he had not seen “or does not exist”.

But according to police notes of a recorded phone conversation involving two suspected gang members, Ford was aware of the video's existence in March, and offered to buy it.

Police notes described a conversation, primarily in Somali, between the two alleged gang members in reference to Ford: “Remember that day he said that in front of me?” one said to the other in a transcript translated by police. “Ya,” the other replied. “He said I'll give you five thousand and a car”, apparently referring to C$5 000 ($4 700).

That offer was rejected, according to the notes summarising the wiretaps. Ford was not part of that or any other wiretapped conversation, according to an initial reading of the notes released in the document.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair would not comment directly on the document, saying only that it was the responsibility of police to gather evidence.

“I don't believe it appropriate for police to comment on the evidence. Our job is to put it before the courts,” he told reporters.

The wiretaps came during a year-long police investigation called Project Traveller for which they tracked conversations of dozens of people. In June, officials made dozens of arrests, including Ford's friend and part-time driver Sandro Lisi, who was detained on drug and extortion charges.

Lisi has not commented publicly on the charges, and his lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.

An earlier release of police investigative documents included allegations, also unproven, that Ford had driven while drunk, and had been abusive with staffers.

The Toronto city council, which does not have the power to fire Ford, last month voted to remove much of his authority and give it to deputy mayor Norm Kelly.

Meanwhile, polls have shown Ford's popularity on the wane, although he still commands substantial support from his main base of support in Toronto's suburbs.

He has vowed to run again in next year's municipal election. - Reuters

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