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Rob Ford's infamous crack video revealed after charge dropped against friend


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via Toronto Star


The public can now watch the video that touched off the biggest political scandal in Toronto’s history.

It’s the video the late Rob Ford tried to deny was real, facing an onslaught of questions as mayor of Canada’s largest city in May 2013. Ford said then he could not comment on a video “that I have never seen or does not exist.”

Almost two years later, the video was played in open court as evidence at the preliminary hearing for Ford’s friend and former driver Alexander “Sandro” Lisi, who was charged with allegedly trying to extort a now convicted gang member to get a hold of the cellphone clip.

On Thursday, that charge against Lisi was dropped, which Superior Court Justice Ian MacDonnell said “closes a rather tumultuous chapter in our city’s civic life.”

In exchange for the charge being withdrawn, Lisi entered into a peace bond, promising to keep the peace for a year and to not contact Liban Siyad and Mohamed Siad, whom he had been accused of extorting.

Crown attorney John Patton said the charge was being withdrawn due to the “current frailties of the case,” including Siyad and Siad's lack of co-operation, and the fact that Ford has since passed away.

Rob Ford is shown smoking crack in a cellphone video that he later claimed did not exist. The video was released Thursday.  (TORONTO STAR) | ORDER THIS PHOTO  

With the charge withdrawn, a publication ban that previously prevented the video from being published or even reporting the video had been played in court was lifted.

Lisi, in a dark blue suit and striped tie flanked by his robed lawyers, said nothing as he faced media again outside a University Ave. courthouse Thursday morning before 11 a.m., keeping a silence he has maintained since his arrest. His legal team, describing Lisi as a victim of the mayhem and police investigation that surrounded Ford, called it a “very happy day.”

“It’s been an extremely difficult toll. It’s been a matter that’s been in the public realm and he’s been under the spotlight for close to three years,” said Toronto lawyer Seth Weinstein. “People invading his privacy, people following him. He has not been able to live his life for the last three years so he’s obviously looking forward to that spotlight dimming.”

Co-counsel Domenic Basile said the case against his client was unnecessarily dragged on and that Lisi was “collateral damage.”

“I don’t have the exact numbers, but millions of dollars, I think I can comfortably say, of taxpayers’ money were spent on this investigation, on the continued prosecution of these matters,” Basile said, noting Lisi was earlier acquitted on drug charges.

He called Lisi a “very loyal friend to Mr. Rob Ford” who tried to get the video back from those trying to sell the video and themselves trying to extort the then mayor. No one else faced extortion charges in relation to the video.

Ford died March 22 after an 18-month battle with cancer, having apparently never seen the video of himself.

At the very first day of Lisi’s preliminary hearing on March 2 last year, in a half-full, second-floor courtroom at Old City Hall, several journalists, court security officers, a handful of lawyers, police detectives, an Ontario Court judge and a small class of students on a well-timed field trip watched the clip of Ford — sun shining on his face and the pipe in his hand — on a large flat-screen television.

Then they watched it again.

When news of the video’s existence surfaced back in 2013, it dominated both local and international news.

Ford, months after the first stories were published, would admit to smoking crack (once, in one of his “drunken stupors”).

Then for a time, he tried to goad former police chief Bill Blair into releasing the crack video, making demands to see it but never agreeing to speak with detectives as part of their investigation into his activities and associates, known as Project Brazen 2.

Senior officers, including now police Chief Mark Saunders, were tasked with trying to find out then whether the video really existed, who had it and whether what it reportedly showed actually happened.

Up until now, very few had ever seen it.

At first, three reporters — the Star’s Kevin Donovan, Robyn Doolittle, now with the Globe and Mail, and Gawker’s John Cook — were among the first to have ever watched Ford spark the lighter and inhale.

Months later, at the end of October 2013, Blair would tell reporters crammed into a police headquarters press room that his investigators had found the video, recovered from a laptop seized during a large guns and drugs raid, and that he himself had watched it.

That investigation of alleged gang members in the city’s northwest, known as Project Traveller, led to dozens of arrests, including that of the man police believe was responsible for filming the crack video and the person trying to broker its sale to the media.

Ford was never charged.

A month later, the list of viewers grew slightly when Superior Court judge Justice Ian Nordheimer got a private screening in his chambers at a University Ave. courthouse during a Traveller-related court appearance.

Then, last year, Lisi’s preliminary hearing began.

The police had prepared a long slideshow of evidence. But everyone, except the unwitting students, was waiting for slide number 29: “Video of Robert Ford.”

“Could you please play this video clip,” Crown John Patton said.

And that was that.

If you're living under a rock or don't care about Canadian news, Rob Ford was the former mayor of Toronto that become a worldwide news story after allegations of him smoking crack came afloat. He died in March.

The cellphone video that Rob Ford said didn't exist has been released in court today. You can watch it for yourself, and this shows that he did actually smoke crack.


Just thought I would post this here. Discuss (if it matters)

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