Project Brazen 2, a months-long investigation triggered by reports of a video allegedly showing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack, included surveillance on land, from the air, and interviews with a series of former Ford staffers, police say.
Details about the investigation are contained in a nearly 500-page police document related to a legal case against Ford’s friend and occasional driver Alexander Lisi, who is also known as Sandro. The document was filed by police in an effort to obtain a search warrant that resulted in Lisi's arrest earlier this month on drug charges. It contains a number of allegations that have not been proven in court.
The following is a timeline of Project Brazen 2 based primarily on the contents of that police document:
- May 16: U.S. gossip news site Gawker publishes a story claiming that its editor had been shown a video of Ford puffing from a glass crack pipe. The Toronto Star follows suit hours later with a similar story that says two of its reporters had been shown the video on a separate occasion. Both media reports claim the video was being shopped around for a six-figure sum of money.
An unnamed source in the stories provided Gawker and the Star with a photo depicting Ford and four men, believed to be in the drug trade, outside a house that Toronto police described as a crack house. The photo became widely circulated in the media. Ford denied smoking crack or that such a video exists.
- May 18: Toronto police assign Gary Giroux, an experienced detective sergeant, “to investigate the matter brought forth by the Toronto Star and Gawker.com and their allegations against Mayor Rob Ford. Specifically to investigate the existence of a cellular phone containing a video of Ford smoking crack cocaine.”
- June 24: A police aircraft is deployed, in response to "counter surveillance measures Lisi has conducted in the past," suggesting that Lisi was aware he was being monitored. It appears the aircraft was repeatedly deployed to monitor Lisi, but investigators suspended its use later in the summer after receiving noise complaints from people in Lisi's neighbourhood.
- June 28: Chris Fickel, a former special assistant in Ford’s office, tells investigators he believes Lisi may have been supplying Ford with marijuana and possibly cocaine.
- July 11: Ford is seen on surveillance cameras parking at a gas station and then walking straight to the washroom. Shortly after, Lisi arrives at the gas station and is seen walking near the mayor's SUV holding a manila envelope. "Lisi appears to be looking around, possibly scoping out the area," the police document says. He is then seen walking along the passenger side of the mayor's vehicle before going out of the surveillance tape frame. Ford spends about six minutes in the washroom, then buys a pack of gum and drives away.
- July 28: Police conduct surveillance of Lisi again when he meets with Ford in a schoolyard in Toronto’s west end. Police retrieve trash that Ford and Lisi had deposited into a receptacle there. Ford’s garbage was “believed to be two empty vodka bottles,” the police document says.
- Oct. 31: Details of police surveillance conducted as part of Project Brazen 2 are publicly released, and show a flurry of phone calls and meetings between Ford and Lisi in the days after the crack video story first broke on May 16.
- Oct. 31: Hours after the document was released, Toronto police Chief Bill Blair holds a news conference saying that officers have recovered a computer file that’s consistent with media reports about the mayor.
- Oct. 31: Ford holds a 90-second press conference at city hall in response, saying he can’t defend himself because the allegations against him are part of a criminal investigation involving an associate, adding: "That's all I can say right now."
- Nov. 8: media lawyers plan to seek access to 170 pages that were redacted in the police document, in the hopes of learning more about how the investigation unfolded.