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Mystery Phone Call Emerges in Rob Ford Scandal

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AP Photo / Nathan Denette

Sandro Lisi

Anyway, this is why I'm never going to Canada because stuff is obviously crazy and extremely dangerous up there. But here's the story. According to this piece in The Toronto Star, right around the time that the crack video story was breaking back in May 2013, there's a 40 second phone call between Ford and Lisi. The call takes place at 8:18 PM on Thursday, May 16th.

Now just for point of reference, if you go back to then-Gawker Editor John Cook's original piece on the crack video - the one that broke the whole story open - it's timestamped May 16th at 8:28 PM. According to the Star piece, Gawker had contacted Ford's office that afternoon. So Ford knew the story was coming very soon - though perhaps not ten minutes after the call in question.

The key is that police did not have Ford's or Lisi's phone tapped. So there's no way to know what was said - only that the call occurred. And neither Ford (who, let's not forget, is still friggin' Mayor and credibly running for reelection as the Mayor of the third largest city in North America) nor Lisi is talking to the police.

Who the police did have tapped though was a whole slew of folks involved in the drug trade, primarily a group of Somali immigrant drug trafficking gangs centered on the Dixon Rd housing projects. And that's where things get interesting. Because pretty much right after the mystery call with Ford, Lisi starts calling a lot of dudes whose phones were tapped and threatening that people were going to get killed if the cell phone wasn't coughed up and the video taken off the market.

From the Star ...

According to calls police did intercept, the hours that followed that Ford-Lisi call were filled with threats by Lisi that unless the crack video was turned over, “you’re f---ing dead and everyone on your block is dead,” according to one man’s account of Lisi’s threat. At no time in the wiretaps does Lisi say anybody told him to retrieve the video.

Over the next two days, Lisi spoke to several people connected to the crack video. To one, Lisi said: “Tell all his boys that it’s going to get worse and worse, all summer, until that phone gets back and that the whole place is going to get lit up,” according to the documents released by the judge.

Toronto police have charged Lisi with extortion over alleged attempts to retrieve the video. Detectives are continuing to investigate to learn whether others were involved.

What's notable, though by no means surprising, is that Lisi's threats seemed to combine threats that he or someone else would kill people and threats of intensified police scrutiny of the Somali immigrant community in general, at least in the Dixon Road neighborhood where the crack smoking and other Mayor Ford drug forays took place.

What's also clear - again, not terribly surprising - is that the whole drama got basically everybody in the community extremely upset with Mohamed Siad, the man who took the video, tried to sell it to the Star and later to Gawker.

Mohamed Siad

Really, really upset. Remember, Siad was later stabbed by fellow gang members angry about the video while all of them were in custody after the Project Traveller raids - the investigation which was the basis of all the aforementioned phone taps.

Siad survived and later tried to use the tape to leverage a plea bargain.

The likely saving grace for Ford is that according to Star's sources, nowhere in the calls does Lisi say that anyone, let alone Mayor Ford, told him to make his threats or otherwise try to retrieve the video. So despite being an habitual drug user, getting caught on camera smoking crack and quite likely sending his enforcer to threaten people into surrendering the crack video, Mayor Ford himself seems likely to evade legal jeopardy. And he may even be reelected as mayor.