Composite photo of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and associate Alexander Lisi. Reuters/Canadian Press
The hunt for a video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine prompted death threats from Ford's friend Alexander Lisi, according to police documents, with Lisi apparently acting as the mayor's muscle around the Dixon Road community to suppress incriminating footage.
A publication ban on the latest information to obtain (ITO) documents was lifted by a judge on Thursday. They were used by police to apply for warrants in the Project Brazen 2 investigation — the surveillance operation on Lisi and Ford.
The newly unsealed papers report "a flurry of telephone activity" from Lisi's cellphone on May 17, 2013, the morning after the news gossip website Gawker broke the crack scandal story.
According to the police documents, a call was intercepted between Dixon Bloods gang member Liban Siyad and an unknown male on the same day. The unknown caller tells Siyad that Lisi was on a manhunt and had been threatening violence against anyone trying to leak the video.
The report quotes the unknown male, who mentions Lisi had called "Juiceman … and told him that, 'You're f--king dead, you're f--king dead and everybody on your block is dead.'"
Another call intercepted as part of Project Traveller on the same day is between "Juiceman" and Siyad. In that conversation, according to the documents, "Juiceman" is quoted as saying he was confronted by Lisi and told that "if that video gets released, I’m gonna, I’m gonna run through all your houses, me and all the, all the Toronto police."
The author of the report adds: "I believe that this is in reference to the video that features Robert Ford smoking what appears to be a narcotic."
Ford 'going mad'
One ITO was released in the fall and another in March. Portions of those ITOs were under the publication ban that was lifted Thursday.
The previously unreported section details what happened around May 17, 2013, the day after the media first reported on the existence of the crack video.
On that day, Monir Kassim, who was famously photographed with Ford in front of 15 Windsor Rd., was recorded saying that "the hood" would be raided soon and that Ford was "going mad" as a result of a missing phone.
The police raided the Dixon Road apartments and arrested Kassim a month later.
There are details of Lisi speaking on May 18 to Liban Siyad, who police suggest was in possession of the so-called crack cocaine tape.
Police describe the conversation as a threat. From the ITO:
Other sections quote Elena Basso, who lives at the 15 Windsor Rd. house, which police have described as a crack house.
Basso notes she is nervous about the threats to bring police to the neighbourhood.
In a conversation with Siyad, she says Ford smoked crack in her house, and now has "Rob’s f--king people and cops coming here every f--king day."
Siyad responds by telling her that the same people are "chasing after" him, believing he has "the video."
They both seem to agree that Ford has “got power” and “it doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong, everybody’s going to ...
feel the heat everywhere."
Investigation at a standstill
The ITO details come at a time when the police investigation appears to be slowing down.
Sgt. Pierre Chamberland told CBC News earlier Thursday that the Ontario Provincial Police force, which took over oversight of Project Brazen 2 earlier this month, is not receiving new evidence on the case.
"Since there's no new information or evidence that has been provided to the OPP ... there is nothing for us to do at this point other than to wait and see whether or not any new information is put forward," said Chamberland.
However, multiple sources tell CBC News the Crown is advising there is insufficient evidence, and the OPP have suspended their involvement.
Ford said he felt his name has been "cleared."
"I just knew all along. I didn't miss a day of work. I kept coming in because I know I did nothing wrong," he said in remarks broadcast on Toronto's CP24 news station.
Ford added: "I knew the day was going to come that I'd be cleared, and I guess today's the day."
However, according to Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash, the Project Brazen 2 investigation is not over.
"As long as the investigators have avenues to follow, they will do that. And when the investigation is over, we anticipate sitting down with the Crown and the OPP to decide the next step," Pugash told CBC News.
Both Lisi and a co-accused in the drug charges, Jamshid Bahrami, fought against the release of the extra details.
Bahrami operates Richview Cleaners, a dry-cleaning business, and was charged with drug possession in Project Brazen 2. His lawyer argued in court that the rest of the information in the ITOs should remain under a publication ban. His main point of contention was being described as a "known drug dealer" by police. Bahrami had a medical marijuana licence.
Bahrami and Lisi face drug charges, and Lisi has also been charged with extortion.
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