Toronto mayor to testify in extortion case

AP News
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Posted: Sep 05, 2014 5:36 PM

TORONTO (AP) — Rob Ford has been ordered to testify at a hearing of a friend accused of using extortion to try and retrieve a video of the Toronto mayor smoking what appears to be crack cocaine, Ford's lawyer said Friday.

Lawyer Dennis Morris said Toronto police handed Ford a subpoena on Aug. 26 to testify at Alexander Lisi's preliminary hearing next spring. Lisi is facing extortion charges in connection with alleged attempts to retrieve the video.

News reports of the video first surfaced in May 2013, sparking a firestorm that eventually prompted the Toronto City Council to strip Ford of most of his mayoral powers. Ford denied the existence of that video for months but after police said they had obtained it, Ford acknowledged that he smoked crack in a "drunken stupor." He rebuffed intense pressure to resign and launched his re-election bid earlier this year. The video has never been released to the public.

Police allege that Lisi used threats, violence or "menaces" to try to force alleged Toronto gang members Mohamed Siad and Liban Syad to hand over a cellphone video apparently showing the mayor smoking crack cocaine.

Morris said he didn't know what information the mayor might have that could bolster the prosecution's case against Lisi.

"We'd all like to know why he's being ordered to testify and what information he might have in relation to this case," said Morris.

Morris said police apparently intercepted Lisi's phone conversations during an investigation and decided to file charges against him based on that.

Separately, Lisi faces trial on drug charges that were filed after police started investigating the mayor. Earlier this year, police released documents and said that meetings between Ford and Lisi were "indicative to that of drug trafficking" and that the two have been in constant contact during the investigation. Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said Friday that Ford remains under investigation.

Ford, who spent two months in rehab earlier this year, is seeking re-election in October.