TORONTO – Toronto police have identified a one-day flurry of communications about the so-called Rob Ford crack video after news first broke as part of their investigation into the mayor, court documents show.
Media reports about the existence of the video appearing to show Ford smoking crack cocaine were published late at night on May 16, 2013. The next day there were 50 separate communications about the video found in intercepts through a gang, weapons and drugs investigation known as Project Traveller and found through phone record production orders, police allege.
Some of the intercepted calls are detailed in portions released Friday of documents containing Toronto police allegations that haven’t been proven in court.
The release of the information was opposed in court by a lawyer for Alexander Lisi, a friend of the Toronto mayor, who is charged with extortion for alleged attempts to get his hands on the video.
Seth Weinstein said portions of the documents still under publication ban go to the heart of the prosecution on the extortion charge. He argued that publishing that information could hurt Lisi’s fair trial rights.
Police allege that as Lisi was trying to get the video between May 16 and 18, he made several calls to alleged gang members as well as Ford’s cellphone, home and OnStar number.
Media lawyer Peter Jacobsen said there is no specific allegation in the documents that the mayor was trying to get his hands on the video or that Lisi was acting on the mayor’s behalf.
One alleged intercepted communication was a call from Mohamed Siad, an alleged gang member who police believe was behind the making of the crack video. He called someone believed to be his sister at 12:47 a.m. on May 17, hours after the news broke, and asked her to take a phone out of a red pencil case and hold it for him, police allege.
“I believe Mohamed Siad was referring to the phone containing the video of mayor Ford consuming what appears to be a narcotic,” police say in the document.
Siad’s sister was interviewed by police and said she had no memory of that conversation and has never spoken with her brother about the video, police say in the document.
Police have alleged that Lisi threatened both Siad and Liban Siyad — both charged with gang offences in the Project Traveller investigation — in his alleged extortion attempts.
Siyad was also heard on intercepted communications talking about the crack video, police say in the document. He spoke on the afternoon of May 17 to another man, who asked him “Why you going to drop it on the mayor,” according to a police summary of the call.
Police have alleged in previously released court documents that the video was filmed surreptitiously at 7:57 p.m. on Feb. 17, 2013 — Sunday of a long Family Day weekend in Ontario.
Ford has admitted smoking crack cocaine, likely in one of his “drunken stupors,” but has said he hasn’t seen the video. Ford has urged police to release it and he has also dared the chief to arrest him.