The Ontario provincial police have stepped away from their role in Project Brazen 2 — the investigation into the Mayor Rob Ford crack video — after a dispute with Toronto police detectives over who was the actual victim of extortion.
The OPP concluded that Ford may have been the victim of an extortion attempt. The OPP believe an alleged drug dealer who made the video tried to blackmail Ford for money before the video was offered to the Toronto Star and Gawker.com.
Toronto police investigators believe the person who filmed the alleged crack video was extorted by the mayor’s friend and former part-time driver, Alexander Lisi, in an effort to retrieve the footage.
In a short statement, the OPP told the Toronto Star it has no role in the investigation right now because no new evidence has been provided.
Toronto police told the newspaper that the investigation is ongoing.
The investigation and the seizure of the so-called crack video have also led to a very public feud between the mayor and the police chief.
Earlier in March, the OPP agreed to assume an oversight role in the Project Brazen 2 at the request of Toronto police chief Bill Blair, partly in an effort to avoid further personal attacks from the Ford brothers.
The mayor, who has repeatedly attacked the legitimacy of the probe and Blair, wasted little time in criticizing the move, which puts the OPP in charge but leaves city investigators on the case.
Project Brazen 2 arose from the force’s year-long Project Traveller probe focusing on organized crime, violence, guns and drugs. It investigated Ford and Lisi. Lisi faces extortion and drug trafficking charges.
Lisi is out on bail after being arrested and charged in October with four drug offences, including trafficking marijuana. He’s also been charged with extortion in relation to the crack video. The allegations have not been tested in court.
With files from Erin Criger