Toronto's mayor said to smoke crack in drug video

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OTTAWA, Ontario -- Toronto police have recovered a video showing Rob Ford, the city's mayor, apparently smoking crack cocaine, the force's chief, William Blair, said Thursday.

The video was recovered by technicians Tuesday from deleted files on a computer seized during a series of drug- and gang-related arrests this year.

In May, the blog Gawker and The Toronto Star both reported that they had been shown the video several times by a man who was trying to sell it. A subsequent attempt by Gawker to buy the video failed, and Mr. Ford has repeatedly denied using crack and said no such video existed.

While Chief Blair did not describe the video at a televised news conference, he confirmed that the mayor appeared in it, and that its contents were "consistent with what has previously been reported." The police chief said there was nothing on the video that could lead to criminal charges against Mr. Ford, but added, "As a citizen of the city, I am disappointed."

During a brief meeting with reporters, Mr. Ford ignored questions about why he had previously denied the video's existence. "I have no reason to resign," he told reporters at City Hall in Toronto. "I'm going to go back and return my phone calls. I'm going to be out doing what the people elected me to do, and that's save taxpayers' money and run a great government that we've been running." He added, "I wish I could come out and defend myself, but unfortunately I can't because it's before the courts."

The recording, and a second video that Chief Blair did not describe, did lead to the arrest of Alexander Lisi, whom Mr. Ford had described as a friend, and who acts as the mayor's driver from time to time. Mr. Lisi has been charged with extortion, although police declined to give details of the charge or name the extortion victim. The Toronto Star has reported that Mr. Lisi tried to recover the video on Mr. Ford's behalf following initial news reports of its contents.

Over the past few months, it had appeared that Mr. Ford, whose sometimes-boorish behavior has long raised questions, was recovering politically from the suggestion that he used crack. The video's existence will likely prove to be a major setback.

The unexpected police announcement came shortly after a court released portions of a police affidavit used to obtain a search warrant against Mr. Lisi in a drug investigation. While heavily censored at points, the more-than-300 pages of testimony and surveillance photos show Mr. Lisi and Mr. Ford apparently exchanging small packages on several occasions.

Their meetings took place at children's soccer matches, at gas stations and behind schools late at night. In one incident, police photos show Mr. Ford remaining in a washroom at a gas station for more than an hour. Mr. Lisi arrives at the station, and after exchanging text messages and making some purchases, he leaves something in Mr. Ford's Cadillac Escalade.

The document also shows that Mr. Ford and Mr. Lisi exchanged a large number of phone calls during the 24-hour period following the initial appearance of the crack video story in May.



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