The Disturbing Rob Ford Crack Scandal Timeline

This is my attempt to compile a timeline of what we know so far about the Rob Ford scandal, by piecing together news reports with the information about the police investigation into the Mayor's driver, Sandro Lisi, which was recently released by the courts. It's pretty much every important event I could find that seemed to be related to the Mayor's crack scandal, the alleged video-related extortion, and the killing of one of the men who appeared in the infamous photo Ford took with three alleged members of the Dixon City Bloods.

Obviously, there's still a LOT we don't know and much of the information that has been made available by the media and the police is based on anonymous sources, so I've tried to be as transparent as possible about where all this information came from. I've provided links wherever I could. Many of the allegations have yet to be proven in a court of law.

It's also probably worth noting that I'm not always sure which news organization was the first to report something — so the publications I mention are the ones I've used during this research and not necessarily the ones who broke the story. The "ITO" is the 474-page "information to obtain" document which was released by the courts, containing details the police provided with regards to their investigation into Sandro Lisi. (You can download a copy of the file here.)

It's been an eye-opening exercise. And a disturbing one. The scandal is even more worrying when you put it in order. The Mayor's crack-smoking might just be the tip of the iceberg. There are a LOT of other questions Torontonians deserve to have answered.

I hope the Mayor gets the help he needs.

Update: In the months since this post was originally published, some more information has, of course, emerged, changing some of the details we know about. Most notably, Ford's cellphone wasn't lost in late March, but on the night of April 19-20.  


At some point, likely early this year, the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, smoked crack and was apparently caught on video doing it. Both the Toronto Star and Gawker would later watch the video and publish reports about it. The Police Chief has confirmed the existence of a video consistent with the media's description. The Star says that the Mayor was:
"inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe. Ford is incoherent, trading jibes with an off-camera speaker... he is heard calling [federal Liberal Party leader Justin] Trudeau a 'fag.' Later in the 90-second video he is asked about the football team [he coached at Don Bosco] and he appears to say (though he is mumbling), 'they are just f---ing minorities.'"

The Gawker account matches the Star's description in most respects — though editor John Cook says that he doesn't remember Ford making the comment about Trudeau, and that it was the voice off-screen who said it instead. "Ford, pipe in one hand and lighter in the other, is laughing, and mildly protesting at the sacrilege. He seems to keep trying to light the pipe, but keeps stopping to laugh. He is red-faced and sweaty, heaving with each breath. Finally, he finds his moment and lights up. He inhales."

Both the Star and Gawker were told that the video was taken "within the last six months". Given that Gawker heard about it in May and the Star adds that they were told it was taken "when snow was still on the ground," it seems that it probably happened sometime early this year.

Ford then spent months denying the existence of the video and claiming that he is not a user of crack cocaine before finally admitting it in early November. "Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine," he told reporters outside the office of the Mayor of Toronto, "Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago." Later he would tell the Toronto Sun, "I think I know what's on the video and I know it's not pretty. Did I smoke something? Probably. It's ugly." But he added that, "I am not a crackhead or junkie," and also claimed, "I wasn’t lying... No, I’m not an addict and no I do not do drugs." 


Ford with Smith et al.
At some point in what appears to be light jacket weather, Rob Ford stood outside what appears to be 15 Windsor Road. There, he took a photo with three alleged members of a gang known as the Dixon City Bloods, or the Dixon Goonies. The house is about 300 meters away from a complex of apartment buildings on Dixon Road where police say the gang is known to operate. It is also allegedly a crack den. Many people assume it's where the video was taken. Both the Star and Gawker say the men who tried to sell the video used this photo as proof they were being serious.

In the ITO, the police say the house is "believed to be a crack house. Looked like drug trafficking going on." The document states that a confidential source told a detective that it's "a 'trap' house. The house belongs to a couple of crack heads but Dixon guys go there often to 'chop' crack or just hang out and get drunk." The ITO also says that the source has seen several alleged members of the Dixon City Bloods at the house, some of whom will play a large role in the Rob Ford scandal. Two of them are in the photo with the Mayor. One of those men is ANTHONY SMITH, who was then shot to death outside a nightclub at the end of March.

The Toronto Star has also reported that they "talked to people who witnessed drug activity there" and that they believe 15 Windsor has been used as a crack house. They also say that their sources tell them that another alleged member of the Dixon City Bloods has been seen at the house: MOHAMED SIAD, the man who would later try to sell them the Rob Ford video.

The house is the residence of what the Star calls an "old friend" of Ford's, FABIO BASSO, and his sister Elena. Basso's criminal record, according to the ITO, includes fraud, possession of narcotics, failure to attend court, driving with ability impaired, possession of a schedule I substance and possession of a prohibited weapon, while his sister's record includes (among other things) trafficking in and possession of a narcotic, being unlawfully at large, obstructing a peace officer, communicating for the purposes of prostitution, possession of property obtained by crime, theft, and an indecent act.

According to a report by the Star, a city official has told them that in January, a member of the Mayor's staff "called the city's water department on behalf of resident Fabio Basso regarding a sewage issue at 15 Windsor Rd." In the ITO, police describe a notebook containing entries relating to the house, the water department and outstanding bills. The police document suggests, "One possible explanation for these entries could be that the Mayor is dealing with house maintenance and bill payment at 15 Windsor Rd."


Sandro Lisi (via CBC)
The Mayor made an appearance at the annual military gala and seemed, according to reports, to be intoxicated. Councillor Paul Ainslie said he was "approached by at least eight people who were concerned about the mayor’s state." After talking to the Mayor himself, Ainslie said he found Ford "somewhat incoherent" and told Ford's chief of staff at the time, MARK TOWHEY, that it would be a good idea for the Mayor to leave. It would be a few weeks before the Toronto Star published the story.

Ford's driver that night was apparently ALEXANDER (SANDRO) LISI, the same man who has now been charged with drug trafficking and extortion over the Ford video. According to the ITO, police have been told by a former Ford staffer that by the time of the Garrison Ball, Lisi had already been driving the Mayor around for a few months. "Everyone at the office was starting to wonder who LISI was." They also say this staffer "believes [Lisi] is a drug dealer" and that the chief of staff also shared those concerns: "Towhey had suspicions that Sandro was a drug dealer." The Star later reported that they had been told by their sources that Lisi brags about supplying the Mayor with drugs. The Globe and Mail reported that a source told them Ford was seen on Lisi's street "at least once a week" and that the two were friends. (Lisi lives just a few blocks away from the alleged crack house at 15 Windsor and the apartment complex on Dixon Road.)

By the time of the Garrison Ball, Lisi already had a long history of trouble with the law, as reported by the Star, including convictions for "threatening bodily harm, assault and criminal harassment for 'repeatedly' following a [...] woman," and "possession of marijuana under 30 grams." He was also, at the time of the Garrison Ball, facing charges for "uttering a death threat against a woman in 2011." In June of this year, he was convicted. He's appealing the decision. Others charges for "assault and harassment" of the same woman were dismissed not long after he drove the Mayor to the Ball in March.

Another man who is reported to have driven to the Garrison Ball with Ford and Lisi was BRUNO BELLISSIMO. The Star describes him as a "crack addict" "who lives in his parents' basement" and has "known Ford since high school days". He and Basso (the guy who lives at 15 Windsor) went to Don Bosco at the same time. The Globe reported that Bellissimo's mother told them he has been friends with Ford since they were kids. The ITO also mentions his criminal record, including fraud, theft and possession of property obtained by crime as well as his "consumption and addiction of crack cocaine." The ITO refers to him as a "self-admitted 'crack user'."

MARCH 2: About a week after the Garrison Ball, Bruno Bellissimo assaulted his parents. According to the ITO, he "threatened to kill his mother, spat in the faces of his parents and pushed his mother to the ground and hit her in her head and body." He was convicted in May and has since been "admitted to a substance-abuse program for treatment," according to the Star.

MARCH 8: Two weeks after the Garrison Ball, Ford is again thought to be publicly intoxicated, according to later reports. This time it's at the gala of the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee. Sarah Thomson, who ran against Ford for Mayor, later says (according to this CityNews timeline) "Ford made inappropriate comments and grabbed her butt... Ford denies the allegations." Thomson later told a radio station that she thought Ford was on cocaine at the time, but had no proof.

MARCH 18: The Toronto Police Service begins Project Traveller, which the ITO describes as a "wiretap project" investigating "the alleged criminal activities" of the Dixon City Bloods. Much of the gang's activity, according to police, is centered around a complex of apartment buildings on Dixon Road, right next to the alleged crack house at 15 Windsor.

Phone records later revealed as part of the Lisi investigation and mentioned in the ITO, show that at this point calls were being made between Ford and Lisi's cellphones pretty much every day, usually more than once.


At some point in the "latter" part of March, Ford is rumoured to have lost his cellphone. The Toronto Star has reported that they learned about the story of the missing cellphone several months ago. They describe it as "an incident that panicked the mayor and some of his staff." They add that a source told them the phone "was apparently retrieved."

A leaked police document would later suggest that during this same month, Sandro Lisi was thought to have attempted to secure "the return of a cellular phone stolen from an associate" in exchange for marijuana. Ford is not mentioned by name, but the ITO does record — following a long segment of redacted information — that "A unified search query of Mayor Rob Ford does not reveal that his phone was reported stolen."

MARCH 25: At about 7pm, according to a report by the Globe and Mail, Ford showed up at the Toronto West Detention Centre long after visiting hours were over. The newspaper says the Mayor asked for a tour and then, when his request was refused, he asked to see Bruno Bellissimo, who was being held in the jail. The Globe says that request was also denied and Ford left.

MARCH 26: The Toronto Star published their story about Ford at the Garrison Ball. It was the first big public account of the Mayor's problems with public intoxication.


Shooting scene (via CP24)
In the wee hours of the morning, Anthony Smith (one of the alleged gang members in the photo with Ford) was shot in the head and killed at King & Portland. It happened at about 2:30 am, after he'd been at a club called Loki Lounge. Another one of the men from the photo, MUHAMMAD KHATTAK, was also shot ("in the chest and neck," according to the ITO) but he survived.

Two other alleged members of the Dixon City Bloods, NISAR HASHIMI and HANAD MOHAMED, were both eventually charged with first-degree murder. (Mohamed had fled to Fort MacMuray; the police tracked him down and arrested him there.) Police had initially described Smith's death as a "targeted" killing, but the charges against both men were later reduced. Hashimi plead guilty to manslaughter and aggravated assault and was sentenced to nine years. According to a report by the Canadian Press about the "agreed statement of facts" in the case, Hashimi said he had "ongoing animosity" with Smith and Khattak. He admitted to shooting them both, but said he "'acted instinctively' and did not intend to kill Smith."

The media later reported that some people believe the Rob Ford video may have been on Anthony Smith's cellphone at the time he was killed. "There is now widespread belief Smith was killed for his phone, which may have contained the video," the Edmonton Sun wrote on May 30. The CBC reported that "some friends" of Smith believed "he might have had the video stored on his cellphone." And Ford's (now former) chief of staff, Mark Towhey, would later reveal that he heard a similar rumour in the days immediately following the first Gawker and Toronto Star reports about the video: "There were a lot of phone calls coming into the office from people... One of our staff received some information from someone he trusted that we didn't know... that [the video] might have been the motive for a murder."

According to the ITO, yet another alleged member of the Dixon City Bloods, AHMED DIRIE, was also there when Smith was killed. He was never charged in connection with the murder, but he would be arrested months later: during the Project Traveller raids in June. The ITO says that a police source told them that Dirie was also seen, at some point, at the alleged crack house at 15 Windsor.

The ITO also notes, among a long list of phone calls between Lisi and Ford:

March 28th, 2013: (Anthony SMITH is killed)
(a) LISI and Mayor FORD speak 7 times.

MARCH 30: Two days after the Smith killing, Sandro Lisi called Fabio Basso (who lives at 15 Windsor) five times, according the cellphone records in the ITO. It's the first time Basso is mentioned in those records, which go back to March 18.


Three or four days after the killing of Anthony Smith and about five days after their report on the Mayor's behaviour at the Garrison Ball, the Toronto Star was contacted about the Rob Ford video for the first time. (This article says it was on the 31st; this one says the 1st.) According to an article by Poynter, reporter Robyn Doolittle was contacted on her phone and met the man in a park. She says she was told the video was for sale and was shown the photo of Rob Ford posing with Anthony Smith and the other alleged members of the Dixon Bloods outside 15 Windsor.

APRIL 2: A day or two after the Star was contacted about the video, and about a week after the story about the Garrison Ball, DAVID PRICE was hired to join the Mayor's staff. He was given the newly-created title of "director of logistics." When the Globe and Mail asked Doug Ford about Price, all the Mayor's brother said was, "You can't teach loyalty."

The Globe would later publish an article called "The Ford family's history with drug dealing," (which also alleged the Ford family once had ties to the KKK) in which they claimed David Price and Doug Ford sold large quantities of hash together during the 1980s: "Several sources have identified David Price as a former participant in Doug Ford’s hashish enterprise." One source referred to it as "a partnership." Another added, "Doug brought the supply, and Dave brought the demand."

APRIL 20: According to the phone records in the ITO, on this Saturday morning between about 4:30 and 5:00 am, Sandro Lisi called Rob Ford's cellphone 19 times. He also called Fabio Basso (the guy who lives at 15 Windsor) twice.

Lisi continued to make a flurry of phone calls over the rest of the morning and into the afternoon, including six calls to LIBAN SIYAD. Siyad is another alleged member of the Dixon City Bloods and another man who the police source in the ITO says had been seen at 15 Windsor. He was later arrested as part of the Project Traveller raids in June. In their current charges against Lisi, the police claim that Siyad is one of the two possible victims of Lisi's alleged video-related extortion.


Robyn Doolittle (via Twitter)
It was this Friday night that the Toronto Star says they saw the video. Reporters Robyn Doolittle and Kevin Donovan met with the man selling the video outside the apartment buildings on Dixon Road. The man who wanted to sell it was Mohamed Siad, described by the media as an alleged gun dealer, alleged crack dealer and alleged member of the Dixon City Bloods. "Money is protection," he told the reporters.

THE WEEK OF MAY 6: The week after the Star saw the video is the week Gawker editor John Cook says he received "a tip from someone claiming to have a videotape of Ford smoking crack." They also had the photo of Ford posing with the recently-killed Anthony Smith and the other alleged gang members. According to the post Cook would soon publish, he came to Toronto and was also taken to the Dixon Road apartment complex where the man who wanted to sell the video showed it to him.

Cook also said the tipster made three claims, that Rob Ford smoked crack, that there was a video, and that:

"Rob Ford purchases his crack cocaine from a crew of Toronto drug dealers that service a veritable who's who of A-list...Torontonians? Torontites? Anyway, a lot of prominent people in Toronto purchase and enjoy crack and powder cocaine, and they all buy it from the same folks. The same folks Ford buys it from. Ford's longtime friend, people on his staff, his brother, a prominent hockey analyst, and more."

The Toronto Sun would later also admit that, at some point, they received a call from someone who said they wanted to sell an embarrassing video of the Mayor. They didn't follow up.

MAY 8: The same week John Cook was travelling to Toronto to watch the video, our Mayor and Sandro Lisi attended a Leafs game together at the Air Canada Centre. According to a report from the Star, "Ford and Lisi disappeared together into a small washroom in the director's lounge, with no explanation given when they emerged."

MAY 14: This is the day our Mayor "sprinted" out of a Community Council meeting and went around slapping a bunch of "Rob Ford Mayor" magnets on the cars in the parking lot. David Price helped him.

BY THIS POINT: Police say they had already learned about the video.


At 8:28pm, Gawker published their account of the video. By the end of the night, the Toronto Star was reporting that they had seen the video, too.

But that afternoon, according to Gawker, before they published their story, they told CNN about it. One of CNN's Canadian reporters then called "a source who used to work in Rob Ford's office" to ask about it. Gawker's editor, John Cook, called that "a pretty fucking big mistake" and said that, "Within 40 minutes, word had gotten back to me that 'CNN called Ford's office asking about a crack tape.'" So it's assumed by some that the Mayor knew the story was coming just before it was published.

Ten minutes before Gawker's story went online, the ITO's phone records show that Rob Ford called Sandro Lisi. That call lasted 40 seconds.

Then, according to those phone records, Lisi started making his own calls, including a series of phonecalls to Fabio Basso (at 15 Windsor) and Liban Siyad (the possible victim of the alleged extortion). The first series of calls was around 9:30pm. He then called them again at about 2:00 in the morning.

According to the charges against Lisi, police allege the video-related extortion happened during this period: sometime between May 16 and May 18.


The morning after the video story broke, Ford was faced with reporters outside his home. "Absolutely not true," he told them. "It's ridiculous. It's another Toronto Star whatever." David Price was there, too, helping to keep the reporters at bay. And so was Sandro Lisi.

That same morning, the Star says Ford held a meeting. They wrote about it later:

"sources have told the Star that at a meeting the morning news of the video broke, Ford cited 'our contacts' and told close confidants not to worry because he knew where the video was, and provided two apartment addresses in the Dixon Rd. complex. Later that day, Price sought out Ford chief of staff Mark Towhey, and raised the 'hypothetical' question: What if he knew where the video was, what would be done? At one point, according to an account of the conversation, the straitlaced Towhey was heard to remark, 'We’re not getting the f—ing thing!' Towhey reported his concerns to police and was interviewed by detectives that weekend."

Meanwhile, according to the phone records in the ITO, Sandro Lisi kept making telephone calls. He called Fabio Basso (at 15 Windsor) five times that day. He also called Mohamed Siad (the man selling the video) twice that afternoon. Siad, according to the charges against Lisi, is the other potential victim of Lisi's alleged extortion.

Here's the detail of that charge as reported by NOW's Johnathan Goldsbie: it's alleged that Lisi "did induce Mohamed SIAD or Liban SIYAD by threats or violence or menaces to deliver said digital video recording to Alexander LISI Contrary to the Criminal Code."

According to the phone records, the Mayor called Lisi 5 times in a span of 17 minutes late that afternoon. His executive assistant, Thomas Beyer, had also placed a call to Lisi that day. Ford then called Lisi again at about 9 o'clock that night.

Around 11:30pm, Lisi called Siad two more times, according to those records. Both of those calls lasted only 3 seconds.

The phone records also show that Lisi was in frequent contact with David Price this day. The ITO suggests they called each other more than a dozen times.

Meanwhile, according to the Star's report on email records released under the Freedom of Information act, on this day Ford's current chief of staff (then his deputy chief of staff) EARL PROVOST stopped sending emails — the last one at 1:18 in the afternoon — and didn't start again for four days. The Star points out that they don't know if that's because he didn't send any emails through that account, or because not all of the records have been released as they should have been. "Provincial law does not include a penalty for refusing to disclose the existence of requested records," they add. His inbox also apparently went silent at this point, with no messages reported as having been received over the next three days.

This is the same day Gawker launched a Crackstarter campaign to raise the money to buy the video.


Det.-Sgt. Giroux (via the Star)
Two days after the video story broke, the Toronto Police Service put a homicide detective, Detective Sergeant Gary Giroux, on the case: "Specifically to investigate the existence of a cellular phone containing a video of FORD smoking crack cocaine," according to the ITO.

The phone records show that on this night, Lisi and Ford called each other back and forth at the same time Lisi was making calls to Mohamed Siad (the man selling the video and one of the possible victims of the alleged extortion). According to the information in the ITO, Ford and Lisi would be in close contact over the course the next week, as they usually were, calling each other multiple times every day.

This day also marks the end of the period in which the police allege that Lisi extorted Siad or Siyad in order to recover the video. If that's true and the charges by the police are found to be accurate, it seems logical to conclude that by the end of this day, Lisi had recovered the video.

This is also the first day, according to what VICE claims they were told by an "anonymous source" that the Mayor's current director of communications — who was working in Doug Ford's office back then — allegedly contacted a hacker in order to break into an online account where the video was being hosted. The subdomain name of that webpage was reportedly "goonies," which suggests a possible link to the Dixon City Bloods.

According to the source in the VICE report, the staffer first emailed the hacker from his official City of Toronto account (before switching to Yahoo): "Got something I want you to look into. Think you probably know what's been reported. What's the best way we can talk… T said you might be able to help us again."

According to VICE: "the hacker told VICE that 'T' stands for Mark Towhey." (The mayor's chief of staff.)

VICE continues: "During one of our interviews with the hacker in August, he told us that Amin [the staffer] and Ford were certain the goonies directory was the last and only place the video existed because the phone used to film the crack tape was 'gone.'"

Also according to claims made by the source in the VICE report, the staffer offered to match the $200,000 from Gawker's Crackstarter fund plus an additional 10% in order to ensure the hacker wouldn't sell the video to someone else once he had retrieved it.

The hacker told VICE that he was eventually able to download two videos from the website, but was unable to delete them.

The staffer has denied the allegations, calling it a "disturbing and false story."

MAY 20: On the Monday after the video story broke, Sandro Lisi made a visit to 15 Windsor and talked with Fabio Basso, according to a report by the Star. They published an account of the conservation:

"'Where are the guys who made the video, Fab,' Lisi said, according to a witness who was present. 'You know where they are.'

Fabio Basso, a quiet man, was nervous. 'They’re gone. Out of town. Gone to Windsor,' said Basso.

MAY 21: The very next day, Sandro Lisi was again seen making a visit to 15 Windsor, according to a Star source.

Around 11:00 o'clock that night, there was a call to police about an "assault in progress" at 15 Windsor. The Star later reported that "Fabio [Basso], his girlfriend, and Fabio's mother were assaulted by an unknown attacker brandishing an expandable baton who broke into their home."

MAY 22: Rob Ford was fired from coaching football at Don Bosco.

He also attended the funeral of Toronto Sun reporter Peter Worthington, where his staffers handed out "Rob Ford Mayor" magnets to the mourners.

The Sun later reported that sources told them that on this night, Rob Ford wanted to throw a pizza party for his now-former football players. His chief of staff, Mark Towhey, "balked" at the idea. The Mayor also wanted to retrieve the football equipment he had donated to the school. Towhey, said a Sun source, talked him out of it.

That night, Towhey sent an email to staffers with the subject line: "Direct order." It said, "Do not answer calls from the mayor tonight. Take the night off."

MAY 23: The very next day, Ford fired Towhey. A source told the CBC it was because Towhey told the Mayor to "go away and get help."

MAY 24: A week after news of the video first broke, Ford made his first statement since the few words he gave reporters the next day. This time he stood outside the office of the Mayor of Toronto and said, "I don't use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine." He added, "I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen or does not exist."

MAY 26: On the Ford brothers' Sunday radio show, the Mayor blatantly denied the existence of the video. "Number one, there’s no video, so that's all I can say. You can’t comment on something that doesn't exist." He also called reporters "a bunch of maggots." When a caller asked the Mayor if that is, in fact, him in the photo with the recently-killed Anthony Smith and the other alleged gang members, Doug Ford accuses her of being "racist."

MAY 27-31: Over the course of the next week, several members of Rob Ford's staff quit their jobs. According to the phone records in the ITO, Ford and Lisi call each other 6 times during Monday and Tuesday, but then, unusually, not at all until the following week.

JUNE 4: Gawker said they'd been told by their contact that the video no longer exists.


Project Traveller (via National Post)
Early in the morning of this day, nearly a month after news of the video first broke, the police moved against the Dixon City Bloods. According to a CTV News report, 42 tactical police teams from 17 different agencies raided the Dixon Road apartment complex. They arrested 44 people and seized weapons, drugs, money, and other items, including one very important hard drive.

That hard drive, according to police, contained a deleted copy of the Rob Ford video. (It would, however, be more than four months before the police recovered the file.) The Police Chief also later revealed that there was a second video of the Mayor also recovered on the same hard drive.

Some of the people arrested in the raids had familiar names (all alleged members of the Dixon City Bloods):

Mohamed Siad: the man selling the Rob Ford video and one of the possible victims of Lisi's alleged extortion. He was charged with "trafficking in firearms, participating in a criminal organization and trafficking in cocaine." The Toronto Sun later reported that "unnamed sources" told them Siad subsequently attempted to use the Rob Ford video as leverage against his charges, but prosecutors refused. Days after Siad was arrested in the raids, he was stabbed in prison. The Sun says a source told them he was attacked by alleged gang members who "wrongly blamed him for the heat coming down on them in Project Traveller because of the alleged crack video."

Liban Siyad: the other possible victim of Lisi's alleged extortion. The ITO also says that a police source told them that he had been seen at 15 Windsor.

Muhammad Khuttak: one of the men in the photo taken with Ford outside what appears to be 15 Windsor. He was the second victim in the shooting that killed Anthony Smith. He was charged with "participating in a criminal organization by trafficking cocaine, and trafficking in a substance held out to be marijuana."

Monar Kasim: the third man in the photo with Ford. He was charged, according to the Star, with "trafficking in weapons and drugs for the benefit of a criminal organization, as well as charges of breach of house arrest, theft under $5,000 and conspiracy to commit unauthorized possession of a firearm."

Ahmed Dirie: the other man who was said to have been present at the murder of Anthony Smith and was said by a police source, as reported in the ITO, as having been seen at 15 Windsor.

JUNE 14: Lisi's sentencing hearing (after his conviction for threatening to kill a woman). A letter of support from Rob Ford was submitted, written on official City of Toronto stationary. Months later, when the media tried to ask the Mayor about it, he refused to answer and walked away. "Anything else? Thanks. It’s over. Forget it, forget it. Done."


Police surveillance photo
At this point, I'm not entirely clear on whether the code-name "Project Brazen 2" refers to the police investigation of Sandro Lisi or of the Mayor himself and whether it might have already started before this point. But June 15 — two days after the Project Traveller raids — is the date of the earliest surveillance of Lisi recorded in the non-redacted portions of the ITO. That document describes frequent appearances by the Mayor while the police were watching Lisi over the next few months. The ITO reports that Ford and Lisi met repeatedly at the ESSO station just down the street from the Mayor's house and in the parking lot of nearby Scarlett Heights, where the Ford brothers and David Price all went to high school. Police say that on several occasionas when Lisi met Ford, he dropped a bag off with the Mayor.

The ITO also suggests that during the investigation, Lisi frequently used what the document describes as counter-surveillance techniques — stuff like erratic driving, U-turns, high speeds, and running stop signs or red lights. At one point, they suggest he bought a "burner" cellphone to evade their efforts to track him. They used, among other things, a camera mounted on a telephone pole outside Lisi's home, a special mobile unit, an undercover officer, cellphone tracking and wiretaps (the records of which have not yet been released, but will be very soon). The ITO even describes police searching a van registered to Lisi's father while Ford and Lisi were off together sitting in another nearby high school parking lot. By the end of June, the police had started using an airplane to follow Lisi around. But after noise complaints from residents and a threat to expose the surveillance technique to the Toronto Star, the police reconsidered that tactic. Later, Doug Ford would tell the Toronto Sun that the Ford family was aware of the aerial surveillance. "I stood there and gave them the finger," he said.

Meanwhile, the police continued to conduct interviews with both current and former members of the Mayor's staff.

JUNE 25: This was the day that a judge gave the police permission to access Sandro Lisi's phone records all the way back to the beginning of Project Traveller in March. The police would have to get permission again, later, for Lisi's phone records after this date — which makes this the dividing line between the two batches. The ITO notes a "dramatic change" between the two. After this date, Ford and Lisi generally stopped using Ford's cellphone and started using the Mayor's OnStar and his home lines instead. Before this date, Lisi had no contact with a number registered to DECO (the Ford family company), but after this date, he started to have regular contact with it: 50 calls over the course of the next few weeks.

JULY 28: This is the day police say they saw Lisi and Ford meet at Scarlett Heights after Ford made a late afternoon trip to a nearby LCBO. They sat and talked and ate — and at one point, the Mayor got out and urinated on a tree. Ford also threw out some garbage; police later checked it and discovered empty vodka bottles.


(photo posted by @JamieCastillo_)
This is the night tweets and videos started appearing from people who said they saw Rob Ford stumbling around drunk at the Taste of the Danforth. Months later, after more denials about his drinking problem, the Mayor eventually apologized for being "hammered" that night. (Phone records also later revealed that he called Lisi around the time of his arrival in the neighbourhood of the festival.)

Later that night, according to the ITO, at about 1 o'clock in the morning, a CBC reporter saw the Mayor at that same ESSO station down the street from his house. The reporter asked the Mayor about having made "big news" that night and Ford replied, "I'm big news. I'm a big guy... I guess anything happens with me is big, right?"

At 2:29 am, also according to the ITO, Sandro Lisi called the police to complain about a "white minivan" "circling the area" near the Mayor's house. The document says he refused to give his name. Police report that he called back a few minutes later to give them the plate number and told them the van was "driving around the area at a high rate of speed." The ITO says the van turned out to be registered to the CBC and by the time the police arrived, it was already gone.

AUGUST 13: This is the day police say Ford and Lisi met in Weston Woods Park (which was actually renamed "Douglas Ford Park" in honour of the Mayor's father in 2009). It's right across the street from the plaza where the Globe alleges that Doug Ford sold drugs during the 1980s, just behind the house where the Mayor's mother lives, and just a minute up the street from Scarlett Heights, where the Mayor, his brother, and David Price all went to high school. According to the ITO:

"LISI and Mayor FORD eventually met and made their way into a secluded area of the adjacent woods where they were obscured from surveillance efforts and stayed for approximately one hour... Surveillance officers were able to locate the area in Weston Wood Park where LISI and FORD met, a vodka and juice bottle were seized from this spot."

AUGUST 17: The Star published an article about the police investigation into Sandro Lisi.

On the same day, the ITO says Lisi again called police to complain about a vehicle he claimed was speeding — this time on his own street. When the police checked the plate number, it proved, once again, to be a reporter.

AUGUST 18: The ITO says police watched Ford and Lisi meet in the parking lot of Scarlett Heights on this day. This time, they were accompanied by another man, MLANDEN MANDERALO, who is recorded in the ITO as having been repeatedly seen with Lisi and Ford during the investigation. Police say he took up a position on the bleachers while Lisi and Ford hung out in the parking lot inside the Mayor's Escalade. (The ITO says that Lisi had arrived in a Safari van registered to his father.) The document doesn't say whether police thought Manderalo was acting as a lookout on this day — but in later reports, they suggest that he checks cars for Lisi as "a counter surveillance method." 

The cops got made. According to the ITO:

"After approximately twenty-five minutes, it is believed that one of the three [men] had spotted one of the surveillance vehicles in the area. MANDERALO was observed using his cellular phone and running toward [Lisi's van]. The surveillance vehicle slowly left the area [...] LISI was observed getting back on board [his dad's] van with MANDERALO and both Mayor FORD and the Safari van left the parking lot at a high rate of speed, Mayor FORD was observed continuing at a high rate of speed [in] the last known direction of the surveillance vehicle. [...]

"Mayor FORD and LISI then circled the neighborhood for a short time. LISI and MANDERALO were observed parking in the plaza lot at 1500 Royal York Road [that's the same plaza where the Globe alleges that Doug Ford and David Price sold drugs in the '80s, across the street from Douglas Ford Park], the two then walked over to the parking lot where they had previously met Mayor FORD, they were observed looking at all vehicles that passed by them."

That same day, the Globe and Mail published a quote Ford gave to the Sun, in which he defended Lisi: "He is a great guy and he is as straight as an arrow."

AUGUST 23: According to the ITO, a member of the Mayor's staff called the police on this day in order to relay a complaint from Ford: he says he's being followed. The police say they were then given a plate number that was just one letter different from the plate of the surveillance vehicle the Mayor, Lisi and Manderalo had seen at Scarlett Heights five days earlier. The police offered to speak with Ford directly, but it seems he never followed up personally.

Instead, the ITO says that the next day Earl Provost (the Mayor's new chief of staff) asked the police to give him the registration information of the vehicle. He also, according to the document, told them that Ford was angry with him for not being able to "give him what he wants." The police say they told him that it was confidential information and couldn't be given out.

In the ITO, the police write that the actions "clearly indicate that Mayor FORD is utilizing his position and the powers of the Office of the Mayor, to obtain information not available to regular citizens... I believe that Mayor FORD was trying to get the registration information for the vehicle that he and LISI observed on August 18th, 2013."


Richview Cleaners (via the Sun)
It was on this day, according to the ITO, that police launched the undercover operation that would eventually land Sandro Lisi in jail. They say the phone records and surveillance showed Lisi was in frequent contact with a dry cleaners in Richview Plaza — making and receiving calls to that location even at the height of the Ford scandal in the days after the news of the video broke. The ITO says that a source told police that "LISI delivers marihuana to Richview Cleaners 2 to 4 times per week." The document also says the police saw Lisi make frequent personal visits to that location.

So on this day, an undercover officer dropped some dry cleaning off — with rolling papers purposely left in the pocket. Those zig zags would provide the excuse to start a conversation about marijuana with the owner, JAMSHID BAHRAMI. Police say the ruse worked. Over the course of the next two months, their records show the undercover officer arranging to buy a large amount of pot through Bahrami.

According to the ITO, "Information on the identity of BAHRAMI's supplier of marihuana was provided to the undercover officer, that being a male known as 'Sandro' who was described as the Mayor's bodyguard... BAHRAMI advises that his guy is SANDRO and that SANDRO is Rob FORD's bodyguard... It is the opinion of investigators that LISI is the supplier for BAHRAMI."

But the ITO also says that the first attempt by police to buy marijuana supplied by Lisi didn't work out. Bahrami, according to the document, told police that Sandro "cannot do it because he has too many problems right now." Instead, the ITO says he hooked the officer up with another supplier from the jewellery store next door — and that a little less than two weeks after the undercover police officer first made contact with the dry cleaner, he was able to buy a pound of weed off the jeweller.

AUGUST 27: David Price missed a train at the Georgetown GO Station and freaked out. He told a GO employee to "fuck off" and broke a door. When a journalist later asked him about it, he is reported to have answered, "Yeah, fuck you dickhead, what are you going to do about it?"

When reporters asked the Mayor about his staffer's behaviour, he replied, "It's actually no one's business what happens in my office."

AUGUST 28: Mayor Ford admitted to the media that he has smoked "a lot" of pot.

SEPTEMBER  27: According to the ITO, the undercover police officer began another attempt to buy marijuana supplied by Sandro Lisi. The documents states, "BHARAMI advises that Sandro is getting 'psycho.' Says Sandro is panicking and thinks that BHARAMI is setting him up... Sandro advises that everyone is after him since the newspaper article." Still, complaining that the contact at the jewellery store was unreliable and that his prices were too high, the officer said he wanted to buy from Lisi instead.

OCTOBER 1: This time, according to the police, the plan worked. The ITO states that the undercover officer bought half a pound of pot from Bharami and that police then waited for Lisi to pick up the money. When he arrived at the dry cleaners and went inside, the police say they entered the building and found Lisi with the same money they had just paid for the drugs inside his pocket. They also say he had a ginger ale can with a hidden compartment in his possession — he dropped it during the raid — which contained a small amount of what "appeared and smelt like" pot.

Lisi was charged with "possession of and trafficking in marijuana, possession of the proceeds of crime and conspiracy." The video-related extortion charge would be added later.

OCTOBER 29: This is the date that, according to the Police Chief, the police were able to recover the videos of the Mayor that were on the hard drive they had seized during the Project Traveller raids four and a half months earlier.


A month after the police arrested Sandro Lisi, the ITO related to his case was released. The Police Chief announced that the police have the two videos of the Mayor in their possession. And everything went crazy.


Top photo via

Adam Bunch is the Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at

The post also appears on the Toronto Dreams Project Historical Ephemera Blog.


Anonymous said...

Great article! A very small but incriminating fact is that, shortly after the Gawker report, Rob Ford buzzed his hair. He had never worn his hair so short in the past and those who were paying close attention couldn't help but think it was an attempt to thwart any efforts to prove that he had smoked crack. Anyone who knows anything about drug use knows that hair analysis is a method of testing. While blood analysis can detect drug use over a few days, hair analysis can detect drug use over a number of months. Very few news outlets noticed at the time but there were still a couple of local mentions. Worth noting.

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