Staff allegations against Rob Ford: cocaine, suspected prostitutes, drunk driving
Published Wednesday, November 13, 2013 12:04PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 13, 2013 9:25PM EST
Members of Rob Ford’s staff were concerned about the Toronto mayor’s drug and alcohol use, including concerns about alleged drinking and driving and suspected consorting with prostitutes, according to newly released court documents.
The information is contained in what is known as an Information to Obtain (ITO), which police used to obtain a search warrant for Ford’s friend Alexander Lisi, and have not been proven in court.
Earlier this month, several hundred pages of the document were released, but many portions were blacked out in order to protect “innocent third parties.”
Earlier Wednesday, Ontario Superior Court Justice Ian Nordheimer allowed for much, though not all, of the redacted material to be released.
The documents include interviews with former members of Ford’s staff, and offer details about a host of incidents in which staffers were called late at night for both city and private business, concerns about drug and alcohol abuse and allegations that the mayor was verbally abusive to female staff.
Ford’s former press secretary George Christopoulos said he had never seen the mayor consume drugs or alcohol, but told investigators that he was often approached “with concerns about the mayor’s alcohol use.”
According to a summary of an interview with Christopoulos conducted on June 18, there were “rumblings,” that Ford was “involved in some sort of substance abuse, but no one seemed to know what.” The interview suggests some suspected the mayor used oxycontin, which he had once been prescribed for an infection of his esophagus.
Christopoulos said he had had conversations with Mark Towhey, Ford’s former chief of staff, “which discussed the possibility that the mayor may be taking drugs.”
Christopoulos also said that during the now widely reported incident on St. Patrick’s Day in 2012, in which the mayor made an appearance at the Bier Market bar downtown, “there are some allegations that the mayor actually did a ‘bump’ off his wrist while at the bar.” (A bump is a snort of cocaine).
Christopoulos told investigators that while some patrons, a bartender and the owner reported seeing this, staff members he spoke to “told him they did not see anything.”
Christopoulos also told investigators that women “have come to the office and told staffers that they have smoked a joint with the mayor on the street outside of the bar. These women were told by the mayor that they could have a job.”
Christopoulos said he would have to “interview” these women and “try to talk them out of a job.” The women reported that the mayor provided the marijuana.
On June 28, detectives interviewed Chris Fickel, who worked for Ford as a special assistant and also volunteered with the Don Bosco football team, which the mayor used to coach. Fickel resigned on June 25.
Fickel told detectives that he was frequently on call for the mayor, meaning Ford would call him after hours.
Fickel said the mayor would call him “to change light bulbs in the front lawn, change batteries in his children’s toys, buying cartons of cigarettes, bleach, laundry detergent and diet Coke for the mayor’s wife.”
Fickel said the mayor asked him to perform these tasks because he was Ford’s “body man” at the time.
Fickel said that while he was not involved in the Bier Market incident, he had heard that the mayor was drunk and had heard that afterward, staffers Isaac Ransom, Earl Provost, Brooks Barnett, a friend of the mayor “and two females that may have been prostitutes came back to the office.”
Meanwhile, in his own interview with police, Ransom, a special assistant for communications who resigned in mid-May, said one of the women in the group that night was named Alana, who “may have been an escort or prostitute.
“There have been rumours that Mayor Ford has used escorts or prostitutes,” Ransom told investigators.
Ransom also said that Ford “was drinking a 40 oz. of Smirnoff vodka right from the bottle.”
“Mayor Ford was trying to get the staff members to drink as well,” a summary of the Ransom interview says. “Mayor Ford would talk about getting hammered, going out then getting laid.”
Ransom said later on at the bar, a former policy advisor for Ford, Olivia Gondek, arrived after staff contacted her hoping Ford would “listen to her.” Ransom reported that Ford “became inappropriate with Gondek that night,” claiming to have slept with her.
According to Ransom, Ford told her “I banged your p----.”
Hours later, according to Ransom, Ford told a female security guard at City Hall that he “was going to eat her box.”
Ransom was clear that he had never seen Ford do drugs.
Another former staffer, Kia Nejatian, who was Ford’s executive assistance from 2010 to May of this year, also reported performing personal errands for the mayor, including changing light bulbs, helping Ford’s wife Renata with her computer, and purchasing alcohol for him.
“Twice a week Nejatian would buy a mickey of lceberg vodka for Mayor Ford,” the document reads. “This would happen close to when Mayor Ford was leaving the office, approximately 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
“Towards the end of Nejatian's time with Mayor Ford the frequency of LCBO purchases increased within the last year.”
Nejatian also reported an incident in which Ford, who “appeared to be under the influence and impaired,” drove himself and former staffer Jennifer Dwyer first to a football player’s house in north Etobicoke and then an event at a Sikh Temple.
“Dwyer text messaged Nejatian and told him that Mayor Ford was not driving properly,” the document said. “Dwyer said that Mayor Ford was impaired, driving very fast and that she did not know where she was going. Dwyer was scared in the vehicle.”
While Nejatian said he had never seen Ford do drugs, he did once find a marijuana cigarette in his desk. He also reported finding empty alcohol bottles in the mayor’s office.