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Documents: Criminal suspects claimed Rob Ford tried to buy damaging video

By Greg Botelho. Rob Frehse and Kevin Conlon, CNN
updated 11:43 PM EST, Wed December 4, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Toronto's mayor has been dogged by drug allegations, has lost much of his power
  • New court docs say that he had interactions with targets of a probe into organized crime
  • One target said Ford had made an offer "in exchange for a video," according to police
  • A man claimed "Ford was smoking rocks," police say of an intercepted phone call

(CNN) -- Criminal suspects claimed embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford tried to buy a damaging video -- months before a tape was publicized showing him smoking crack -- according to court documents released Wednesday.

The documents obtained from Ontario Crown Counsel Arielle Elbaz are tied to a Canadian investigation into organized crime called Project Traveller. Ford wasn't the focus of this investigation, and he has not been charged with a crime. But, after allegedly interacting with several players who were involved in the probe, he ended up getting ensnared in it.

The mayor's camp did not immediately return a CNN request for comment Wednesday night on the latest allegations.

According to the documents, police translating a March 27 phone conversation primarily from the Somali language believed that the men were talking about "receiving an offer from Rob Ford in exchange for a video."

The men discussed an apparent offer of $5,000 and a car in exchange for the video, as well as selling the tape to the Toronto Star newspaper and an unnamed website.

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The court documents state: "At the end of the discussion, (one of the men) said he does not want to go to the media but would just see him (believed to be referring to Ford), ... He says he'll ask for 100 or 150" -- possibly referring to $100,000 or $150,000.

These conversations don't delve into specifics about what's on the video. But earlier this year, allegations surfaced in two media outlets that Ford had been recorded last winter using crack cocaine. In May, the Star and the website Gawker published stories saying their reporters saw 90 seconds of a cell-phone video showing Ford, as the Star described it, "inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe."

Later in the video -- as described by the Star -- an "incoherent" man both the Star and Gawker claimed was Ford ranted on a number of subjects.

After that report came out, Ford said he no reason to resign. Yet pressure on him increased earlier this fall when the Canadian city's police chief announced investigators had recovered a video that purportedly showed Ford smoking a crack pipe.

The next week, on November 5, Ford admitted that he'd "smoked crack cocaine ... probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago." He denied being an addict.

Ford says he didn't lie about crack use

Even after this admission, Ford refused to resign. Instead he vowed "outright war" on the city council when, later in the month, it slashed the mayor's budget and transferred most of his duties to the deputy mayor.

"If you think American-style politics is nasty, you guys have just attacked Kuwait," Ford said then to groans and laughter in the city council chambers.

The mayor's voice is less apparent in the documents released Wednesday, although he is not necessarily insignificant.

Toronto mayor's rant caught on video

Authorities say that phone intercepts from early on April 20, for instance, indicate one woman telling a man "that Rob Ford is at the residence." Two minutes later, at 12:54 a.m., another man allegedly tells the first "to go to Princess's ... house to deliver drugs to Rob Ford," the court documents say.

One of the men says around 2:18 a.m. that Ford was doing drugs, and that the other man "told him to take a picture of that because of what it would be worth," according to the official account.

"(This other man) says that the Mayor of the City Rob Ford was smoking his rocks today," police said of another phone conversation from shortly before 6 a.m. that April morning.

Later that day, Ford was out helping clean up a city park. He was without his cell phone, the documents said, citing remarks by the mayor's staff, with indications that he had either left it or had it taken by those people he'd been with hours before.

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