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Toronto police obtain new warrant in Ford investigation

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford talks to media at City Hall on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. The mayor told reporters ‘I held my own’ during his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Toronto Police have obtained another search warrant in connection to a months-long investigation involving Mayor Rob Ford.

Details relating to the warrant, including what materials are being sought and who is being targeted, were sealed by an Ontario judge Friday.

Lawyers representing several media organizations including The Globe and Mail are seeking access to police documents submitted to court to obtain search warrants for a Toronto Police operation dubbed Project Brazen 2.

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The investigation was launched in spring of last year, after reports surfaced of a video allegedly depicting Mr. Ford smoking crack cocaine. The probe has included months of surveillance of the Mayor and his friend and former driver, Alessandro Lisi. Mr. Lisi, 35, is facing charges of drug trafficking and extortion related to the alleged video.

Mr. Ford, who has admitted to smoking crack cocaine, has not been charged. This week, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair asked the Ontario Provincial Police to take control of the investigation. Mr. Ford and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, have ramped up criticism of the chief over his remarks about the case in recent weeks.

Surveillance of Mr. Ford was revealed in a nearly 500-page police document connected to a previous search warrant obtained in Mr. Lisi's drug case. Most of that document has been publicly released.

Details connected to a search warrant involving access to Rogers cellphone records are expected to be released to media lawyers and Mr. Lisi's lawyer before March 19. A judge must still rule whether the search-warrant details should be made public.

Mr. Lisi's extortion case was in Old City Hall court on Friday.

Court proceedings have been delayed in part because Toronto Police travelled to Apple headquarters in California to gain access to data from an iPhone belonging to Mr. Lisi. Domenic Basile, one of Mr. Lisi's lawyers, said in court that he has not yet received "important disclosure" from the Crown relating to the contents of the cellphone.

"I need that disclosure … before my client can decide what election to make," Mr. Basile said, adding it would affect the decision of whether to choose a trial by judge alone.

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Outside court, Mr. Basile said police took Mr. Lisi's iPhone to Apple's headquarters in California to retrieve data. Data from iPhones are typically stored on the cellphones as well as on iCloud, Apple's data storage service. Last fall, police sought an "assistance order" from Apple Inc.

Mr. Lisi, 35, is known for making secret video and audio recordings of his interactions with others.

He did not appear in court Friday, but Mr. Basile said his client is "anxious to have these matters dealt with." The case was held over until April 2.

Mr. Lisi was charged with extortion last fall for alleged threats against two men who investigators believe attempted to sell a video of Mr. Ford.

According to a court document, Mr. Lisi used "threats or violence or menace" against Mohamed Siad, the man believed to have tried to sell the video, and Liban Siyad between May 16 and May 18. Mr. Siad and Mr. Siyad were arrested in Project Traveller, a police crackdown on drugs and street gangs in the Toronto neighbourhood of Etobicoke that led to dozens of arrests in mid-June.

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About the Authors
National news reporter

Renata joined The Globe and Mail's Toronto newsroom in March of 2011. Raised in the Greater Toronto Area, Renata spent nine years reporting in Alberta for the Calgary Herald and the Edmonton Journal, covering crime, environment and political affairs. More

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