Criminal suspects claimed Rob Ford tried to buy damaging video

(CNN) -- Criminal suspects claimed embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford tried to buy a damaging video -- months before a tape was publicized showing him smoking crack -- according to court documents released Wednesday.

The documents obtained from Ontario Crown Counsel Arielle Elbaz are tied to a Canadian investigation into organized crime called Project Traveller. Ford wasn't the focus of this investigation, and he has not been charged with a crime. But, after allegedly interacting with several players who were involved in the probe, he ended up getting ensnared in it.

The mayor's camp did not immediately return a CNN request for comment Wednesday night on the latest allegations.

According to the documents, police translating a March 27 phone conversation primarily from the Somali language believed that the men were talking about "receiving an offer from Rob Ford in exchange for a video."

The men discussed an apparent offer of $5,000 and a car in exchange for the video, as well as selling the tape to the Toronto Star newspaper and an unnamed website.

The court documents state: "At the end of the discussion, (one of the men) said he does not want to go to the media but would just see him (believed to be referring to Ford), ... He says he'll ask for 100 or 150" -- possibly referring to $100,000 or $150,000.

These conversations don't delve into specifics about what's on the video. But earlier this year, allegations surfaced in two media outlets that Ford had been recorded last winter using crack cocaine. In May, the Star and the website Gawker published stories saying their reporters saw 90 seconds of a cell-phone video showing Ford, as the Star described it, "inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe."

Later in the video -- as described by the Star -- an "incoherent" man both the Star and Gawker claimed was Ford ranted on a number of subjects.

After that report came out, Ford said he no reason to resign. Yet pressure on him increased earlier this fall when the Canadian city's police chief announced investigators had recovered a video that purportedly showed Ford smoking a crack pipe.

The next week, on November 5, Ford admitted that he'd "smoked crack cocaine ... probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago." He denied being an addict.

Even after this admission, Ford refused to resign. Instead he vowed"outright war" on the city council when, later in the month, it slashed the mayor's budget and transferred most of his duties to the deputy mayor.

"If you think American-style politics is nasty, you guys have just attacked Kuwait," Ford said then to groans and laughter in the city council chambers.

The mayor's voice is less apparent in the documents released Wednesday, although he is not necessarily insignificant.

Read more here.



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