Henry Grabar is a staff writer for Slate’s Moneybox and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.
The attacker stormed the home where the video was allegedly shot, demanding to be put in touch with the drug dealer who supplied the Mayor.
The video had disappeared. The scandal was fading from the headlines. It seemed that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, he of the alleged crack video, had deflected a haymaker...
And then, like some deranged Clue scenario come to life, came the news that a "pipe-wielding thug" in search of the video had sent one of Ford's high school classmates and smoking buddies to the hospital.
But first, a little background: this morning, the Star identified the house in the infamous photograph of Ford with Anthony Smith, who was murdered outside a Toronto nightclub in March. It is 15 Windsor Road, owned by Lina Basso, who lives there with her middle-aged children Mario, Fabio and Elena.
Several neighbors told the Star that 15 Windsor is a notorious address for drug activity in the area. It is also just around the corner from the Dixon Road address where Ford apparently said the video was located. And Fabio Basso, 45, and Ford were a year apart at Scarlett Heights High School, at least for a time.
But that's only the tip of the iceberg. Apparently, the house is also the location where the infamous video was recorded, in the company of Fabio Basso and his sister Elena. Reports Gawker:
A source who knows both Basso and Ford tells Gawker that the men are longtime friends, and that Ford has been a frequent visitor to 15 Windsor over the years. According to this source, the video of Ford smoking crack was recorded there at some point six to eight months ago during one of Ford's "binges." "He's been doing it for years," the source said of Ford's trip to the house. "They go down in the basement and party." The source said he would frequently hear Fabio complain, after Ford's visits, "Rob and my sister kept me up all night."
On the night the video was recorded, the source said, Basso's mother was out of town. Ford came over, and "some kids from the neighborhood"—by which the source meant the nearby housing complex at 320 Dixon Rd. where Ford would later tell his staff he believed the video was being stored—were called over to supply the group with crack. At one point, the group—which included Anthony Smith and Muhammad Khattak, who were later shot in March outside a Toronto nightclub—asked Ford for a picture. (I should note here that one of our sources on this story has repeatedly insisted that Smith was not personally involved in the drug trade.)
When Fabio objected to a photograph being taken inside his home, someone suggested they go outside. "Ford ran outside like a schoolgirl to have that picture taken," the source, who was not present but heard about the evening's events later, told Gawker.
Also according to Gawker, in the days after the Star and Gawker announced their reporters had watched footage of Mayor Ford smoking crack, two men paid Fabio Basso repeated visits seeking to be put in touch with the drug dealer who had supplied the Mayor. On Tuesday, May 21, five days after the news broke, one of the men returned with a pipe and attacked Basso and his girlfriend. Basso spent the night at a nearby hospital.
Police reports confirm a break-in at 15 Windsor that night. The suspect was not apprehended.
Predictably, Mayor Ford has remained mum on the subject, as have the Bassos.
A comment on a blog post from several months ago unearthed by Reddit users appears to verify a connection between Ford and the address. On a piece about Ford's behavioral issues at a March gala, one commenter wrote:
Here's the thing: Rob Ford DOES use crack cocaine. A friend of mine, her mother is a serious drug addict. Rob Ford regularly goes over to her house to smoke crack.
The problem is this: The daughter wants to expose Rob Ford's drug abuse, but her oldschool Italian grandmother won't allow her to "bring shame" upon the family, long story short. So basically the daughter has become complicit with the entire thing instead of doing the right thing. Shame on you Jasmin. [sic]
As the obituary of her husband confirms, Lia Basso did immigrate from Italy and has a grand-daughter named Jasmine.
Your move, Mayor Ford!
Top image: Mark Blinch/Reuters.