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Rob Ford subpoenaed to testify in friend's 'crack video' extortion case

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TORONTO - Mayor Rob Ford has been ordered to testify at his friend's "crack video" extortion hearing in a case his lawyer said Friday was driven by police, not because the two alleged victims complained.

Ford, who is in the final weeks of campaigning for re-election, would only confirm having been served with a subpoena but refused to discuss the issue further.

"Everything now is before the courts and I suggest you talk to (my lawyer)," Ford said.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Ford's lawyer Dennis Morris said he didn't know what information the mayor might have that could bolster the Crown's case against Alexander (Sandro) Lisi.

"This chap's charged with extortion so I have no idea why the mayor's in any way related to that but we'll find out."

Police allege that Lisi used threats, violence or "menaces" to try to force alleged west-end gang members Mohamed Siad and Liban Syad to hand over a cellphone video apparently showing the mayor smoking crack cocaine.

Morris said it appears police took it on themselves to charge Lisi with extortion.

"I don't think the alleged complainants complained at all to any police officer," the lawyer said. "The police intercepted conversations and they turned them into complainants."

Word of the so-called "crack video" — which first surfaced via the website Gawker and the Toronto Star in May 2013 — sparked a firestorm of scandal that saw council strip Ford of most of his mayoral powers and ultimately prompted him to enter rehab earlier this year after he admitted to using crack cocaine and binge drinking.

Ford will have to testify at Lisi's preliminary hearing in March in line with the subpoena, which the lead investigator in the case, Det.-Sgt. Gary Giroux, served on the mayor outside his mother's home last week.

"It was pre-arranged," Morris said. "The police wanted to serve him and they were doggedly determined to do so and he was served."

News of the subpoena initially broke more than a month ago, prompting Ford's brother, Coun. Doug Ford, to accuse police Chief Bill Blair of leaking the information. The councillor retracted the comments and publicly apologized after Blair threatened to sue.

Ford, who has frequently challenged police to charge him if they had any grounds to do so, has refused to talk to police. That won't change, Morris said.

The lawyer called the alleged incidents "history" that happened "a long time ago."

Ford has also been trying to put distance between the missteps that made him a household name and TV celebrity in much of North America and his current post-rehab self.

Following a candidates debate on Thursday, the mayor refused to discuss the scandals or the ongoing police investigation.

"Guys, we've gone down this. This is like the oldest news around," Ford said.

"Those days are gone. I'm doing what the taxpayers want me to do."

Recent opinion polls suggest Ford is well behind front-runner John Tory in the Oct. 27 mayoral race but that he remains a strongly viable candidate despite the numerous problems he has had to face.

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