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Monday, May 27, 2013

Toronto police spoke to Mayor Ford’s senior staffer after tip linked killing to alleged drug video

A senior staffer for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been questioned by police after a video allegedly showing the mayor smoking crack cocaine with a man who was murdered several weeks ago, a shocking report claims.

Ford has been consumed by a sea of speculation after rumors of the video surfaced two weeks video, but he adamantly claims that the video does not exist.

Sources told the Globe and Mail newspaper that police had spoken to a high-ranking official within the mayor's office as part of an 'ongoing investigation that is currently in the media.'

The paper reported that the staffer reportedly told officers that he claimed to know where the video was and that the person who had it may have been murdered for what he knew.

A still image obtained by and The Toronto Star - allegedly taken from the video -  purportedly shows Ford with two men.

One of them is believed to be 21-year-old Anthony Smith, who was gunned down outside at Toronto nightclub last month.

The report comes as Ford's press secretary George Christopoulos and deputy press secretary Isaac Ransom have stepped down amid the uproar.

Additionally, chief of staff Mark Towhey was fired late last week, according to reports.

Ford said on Sunday that the purported video of him smoking crack cocaine does not exist and vowed to seek re-election next year, and attacked the media as a 'bunch of maggots.'

The mayor of Canada's largest city, speaking on the weekly radio show he hosts with his brother Doug Ford, a city council member, reiterated that the allegations are ridiculous, but he still has not said whether he has ever used crack.

The video has not been released publicly and its authenticity has not been verified.

Reports on Gawker and in the Toronto Star claimed it was taken by men who said they had sold the drug to Ford.

The Star reported that two journalists had watched a video that appears to show Ford, sitting in a chair, inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe.

The Star said it did not obtain the video or pay to watch it.

Gawker and the Star have said the video was shown to them by a drug dealer who had been trying to sell it for a six-figure sum.

Today, Gawker successfully raised more than $200,000 in its 'Crackstarter' campaign to purchase the video.
When asked by a caller to the show if it was him in the video, Ford responded: 'Number one: There's no video, so that's all I can say. You can't comment on something that doesn't exist.'

Ford called the allegations false and said good journalists are 'few and far between'.

'A bunch of maggots," Ford said, quickly adding that he shouldn't have said that. In a press conference today, he apologized for the remark.

Ford has refused to take questions from the media for more than a week.

On Friday, he read a statement to reporters in which he denied using or being addicted to crack cocaine, but declined to take any questions.

The explanation has not been enough for Ford's critics, who have questioned whether the mayor has told the whole truth.

Some have called on him to step down, but Ford vowed on Sunday to seek re-election next year. 'I'll be the first putting my name on that ballot,' he said.

Doug Ford is also facing drug allegations after another leading Canadian newspaper published Saturday the results of what it called a lengthy investigation into the Ford family's past that revealed 'a portrait of a family once deeply immersed in the illegal drug scene'.

The Globe and Mail, citing anonymous sources who were involved in the drug trade, alleged that the mayor's older brother sold hashish for several years in the 1980s in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke, where the family grew up. Doug Ford, 48, is an influential adviser to the mayor.

'I was not a dealer of hashish in the 1980s,' Doug Ford said on Sunday's radio show.

On Saturday, in an interview with the cable TV news network, CP24, Doug Ford also denied the allegations, accusing the Globe and Mail of engaging in 'irresponsible journalism' and trying 'to ruin our family.'

The mayor has been embroiled in almost weekly controversies about his behavior since being elected in 2010, but these are the most serious allegations he has yet faced.

The Toronto Star reported earlier this year that the mayor was asked to leave a gala fundraiser for wounded Canadian soldiers because he appeared intoxicated.

During his campaign for mayor, Rob Ford vehemently denied a 1999 arrest for marijuana possession in Florida, but later acknowledged it was true after he was presented with evidence.

He pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and failing to give a breath sample to police.
While in office, he has been accused of flouting conflict of interest rules and making obscene gestures at residents from his car.

The controversy has drawn comparisons to the 1990 arrest of then-Washington Mayor Marion Barry, who was videotaped smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room during an FBI sting operation.

Barry served six months in federal prison on a misdemeanor drug possession conviction but later won a fourth term as mayor in 1994.

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