Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has not yet been subpoenaed to testify in an extortion case involving his former friend Alessandro Lisi, according to the mayor's lawyer – who accused police of having "political" motives.
A report in the Toronto Star last week said that Toronto Police are ready to subpoena Mr. Ford in the case involving Mr. Lisi, who allegedly made threats to attempt to obtain the video purportedly showing the mayor smoking crack cocaine. But on Thursday, the mayor's lawyer Dennis Morris said that has not yet happened, and questioned why detectives want to subpoena the mayor now, when Mr. Lisi's case isn't expected in court until March of next year.
"I personally feel it's more political," Mr. Morris said in an interview with the Globe. "The trial's in March, so to subpoena anyone so early is not mandatory. It's not necessary. It's a distraction from the campaign, so I feel there's some political motive behind it."
The mayor is running for re-election in the October election, and Mr. Morris said that subpoenaing him before that would be "nothing more than an attempt to embarrass the mayor."
Toronto Police spokesman Mark Pugash would not comment Thursday on whether a subpoena is imminent, but described Mr. Morris' allegations as "absolutely wrong."
"He's wrong. This is an ongoing criminal investigation run by an extremely experienced, very persistent investigator. That's what this is about. It has nothing to do with anything else."
Mr. Morris also questioned whether a subpoena is simply investigators' way of meeting one-on-one with Mr. Ford – a meeting the mayor has so far resisted. Toronto Police Detective Sergeant Gary Giroux, who is leading Project Brazen 2 – the investigation that resulted in Mr. Lisi's charges and also targets Mayor Ford – has repeatedly stated that he still wants to speak with the mayor.
"Let's put it this way: Often times in a given case, a crown attorney or police officer would say the crown attorney wants to interview you and get your statement down. Basically it's a back-door way of getting to what we've resisted in keeping with our right to remain silent," Mr. Morris said. "And obviously I'm going to recommend the mayor resist that."
In response, Mr. Pugash called Mr. Morris "absolutely off-the-mark." He declined to elaborate, however, citing the ongoing investigation.
Mr. Lisi, a former friend and driver of the mayor, was arrested in October and charged with drug trafficking and possession. He was also later charged with extortion – charges that followed a long investigation targeting both Mr. Lisi and the mayor.
This is not the first time members of the Ford camp have accused members of Toronto Police of acting politically with respect to the investigation into the mayor. In November, Mayor Ford's brother Councillor Doug Ford called on Chief Bill Blair to resign, after he revealed that police had a copy of the alleged crack video.
And last week, Chief Blair told reporters he was prepared to take legal action against Doug Ford, after the councillor suggested the chief had leaked information about the subpoena as "payback" for having his request for a contract renewal denied.