Rob Ford: Tale of the wiretap

How bad is the Toronto Mayor's judgment? Charlie Gillis explains


How bad is Rob Ford’s judgment? How deeply had the Toronto mayor roamed into the drug and gang underworld before it all went viral?

Consider the timeline that emerges in the latest disclosures from the Information to Obtain document filed as part of the case against Sandro Lisi.

On March 27, police listened in on a conversation between Mohamed Siad, one of the men who was trying to sell the video showing Toronto’s mayor smoking crack, and an associate named Siyadin Abdi. Siad was a key target in Project Traveller, a drugs-and-guns investigation that resulted in 44 arrests and 224 charges. “They talked about Ford going to a party and getting kicked out because he was intoxicated,” the document says, adding:

They then discussed plans to sell the tape. SIAD said “Remember that day he said that in front of me?” ABDI replied “Ya, he said I’ll give you five thousand and a car. What the f–k is that?” (Believed to be referring to an offer made by Mayor FORD). SIAD said that he was going to meet him and ask for “150” (believed to be $150,000). ABDI said the video could be sold to both the Star and the other website. SIAD said he preferred going to Ford personally.

So here we have Ford, fully six weeks before news of the crack tape went public, trying to buy it—or so say the targets of a drug investigation wiretap. It is important to note, as Ford’s lawyer has done, that the content of these exchanges has not been tested in court.

Then, on April 20, police picked up more intriguing chatter involving Ford. It’s just before 1 a.m., and the mayor, the officers hear, is at 15 Windsor Road, home to his long-time friends the Bassos and the location where the crack video was reportedly shot.

They’re now listening in on the line of Liban Siyad, one of the men charged in the Project Traveller sweep and another member of the alleged drug gang living on Dixon Road. Siyad has been summoned to the house at the request of Elena “Princess” Basso to deliver drugs to Rob Ford, the court document says. A few hours later, according to the document, Siyad calls another associate:

SIYAD says that the Mayor of the City Rob FORD was smoking his rocks today. SIYAD advised that he was at Princess’s house and that he will put a picture up on instagram. 

Let’s recap. Sometime before March 27, the mayor spends a day at the Bassos’, during which he is filmed, as Siyad might have put it, “smoking his rocks.” This unleashes a world of misery, according to the wiretaps, including an extortion attempt that prompts Ford to make a lavish offer in hopes of getting the video back.

Yet even that isn’t enough to make him swear off the Bassos and the crack and the whole disgraceful tableau: he’s back there in the wee hours of April 20, according to the wiretap, a few hours before he’s supposed to make an official appearance at a park clean-up (astute souls will note that 4/20 is the date cannabis enthusiasts have chosen to celebrate all things pot-related).

To cap it off, Ford manages to lose his smartphone that night. It winds up in the hands of Siyad and his associates, who return it only because holding it doesn’t seem worth the trouble. The men shrug off threats to sic the police on them allegedly issued by Ford’s pal and sometime driver, Sandro Lisi:

SIYAD advises that he didn’t like being threatened and that they have a picture of Rob FORD on a pipe. The other male advises that they love and respect Rob FORD but they have Rob FORD on a lot of f–ked up situations and they don’t want to say anything.

Whether the picture ever went up on Instagram is not clear. But the wiretaps make a pretty good case that the worst fears about Ford’s extracurricular activities were well-founded: that he was indeed at the mercy of known and suspected criminals; that his judgment, such as it is, had flown out the window; that the alleged gang-bangers of northwest Toronto had the mayor cornered and, frankly, outsmarted.

Again, this all rest on police-gathered information that has not been tested in court. So far, though, the dirt dug up by the cops has held up under public scrutiny. Better, to say the least, than Rob Ford’s denials.

Fans of the mayor who say they prefer Ford on crack to any sober alternative might bear this in mind.

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