Police allege a friend of Toronto's mayor threatened two reputed gang members as he tried to get his hands on a video appearing to show Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine.
A brief court appearance today for 35-year-old Alexander Lisi helped shed light on his alleged activities in the hours after the Toronto Star and U-S website Gawker published accounts of the video on May 16th.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair announced yesterday that police have recovered what appears to be the alleged video and that Lisi had been charged with extortion in addition to four earlier drug counts.
Lisi was released on five-thousand dollars bail at the court appearance.
As part of his bail conditions, he has to abstain from using illegal drugs, can't have weapons or more than one cellphone, and can't associate with anyone he knows has a criminal record unless accompanied by his lawyer.
Evidence presented at the hearing was placed under a publication ban. But Lisi's formal charge alleges that between May 16th and 18th he tried to induce Mohamed Siad and another alleged gang member ``by threats or violence or menace'' to hand over the video.
A police report released by the courts yesterday refers to Siad as one of the people believed to be trying to sell the Mayor Ford crack video.
The story about the possible existence of video appearing to show Mayor Ford smoking crack broke May 16th. Not long after the story was posted, Lisi attempted to call Siad.
Siad and the other alleged gang member were arrested as part of Project Traveller, a drugs and weapons investigation that culminated in June with a series of raids.
(With files from Russ Courtney)