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"Justin" recalled descending to the basement on one occasion to buy hash from Mr. Ford, and on numerous other occasions watching as it was sold.
He said he couldn't recall exactly how much hash he purchased that day, but that it was enough to require a triple-beam balance scale – the kind used in most high-school science classes. Normally, street-level dealers in that era relied on Pesola scales, the compact tubes often used by fishermen to weigh their catch. "If you went over [a quarter-pound], you had to go up to the three beamers – because you could get up to a few pounds on it," he explained.
As a dealer, Doug Ford was not highly visible. Another source, "Tom," who also supplied street-level dealers and has a long criminal record, said his girlfriend at the time would complain, whenever he was arrested, that he needed to be more calculating "like Doug." Mr. Ford's approach, sources said, was to supply a select group that in turn distributed smaller amounts across Etobicoke.
As well as James Gardens, a popular place to buy hash was the Royal York Plaza, also known as The Drift, because it offered a clear line of sight down Royal York Road and fair warning of any approaching police cruisers.
The mall is located steps from the Fords' childhood home. "If [Doug] wasn't going out, someone would go down to the house and pick it up and bring it down to the Royal York Plaza," said "Sheila," adding that she was an RY Drifter who bought small quantities of hash from Mr. Ford, and knew him to supply street-level dealers. "If Doug wasn't around, people ... would sell it for him. It was an operation." The quantities that Mr. Ford handled were, at times, substantial. "Michael" said he remembered buying hash from Doug Ford at least half a dozen times – before he found a cheaper source – and that each time he bought between one-quarter and one-half of a pound. He said that a quarter-pound sold for between $400 and $425.
Like many of the street-level dealers interviewed, he said he sold hash in order to support his own smoking habits. When asked where Mr. Ford fit in the hierarchy of dealers in their neighbourhood, he replied: "He'd be at the top."
Turf wars were rare. Relations between dealers were so good, in fact, that in times of short supply, competitors turned to each other for help. "Robert," a former high-volume seller of hash, said he had an arrangement with Mr. Ford. "He would buy off me, sometimes I would buy off him."
"Tom," the high-volume hash dealer who admired Mr. Ford's ability to avoid scrutiny, also said he and Doug helped each other out during shortages. "We had all figured out that that kept the cops away. 'Let's keep things low-profile. Why start fights? There's enough money in it for everybody.' And most people agreed with that. Once the fights start and the guns come out, then the cops will be in and it will ruin it for everybody."
But the shunning of strong-arm tactics was not universal.
Marco Orlando had thick, curly black hair and round cheeks. He and his parents, Italian immigrants, lived in a bungalow on a quiet cul-de-sac a short walk from the Ford family home.
He was also supplied a lot of drugs on credit but was notoriously unreliable when it came to paying for them. Among his suppliers, the suspicion was that Marco was sharing his illicit proceeds with his parents and feigning poverty. So two weeks before Christmas, they hatched a plan, said "Tom," a drug dealer who said he was involved in the scheme.
On a Tuesday night, with the usual throng of young adults outside the Bank of Montreal at the Royal York Plaza, Marco was jumped, beaten and thrown into a car. He was driven more than 30 kilometres to a basement in Bolton, where someone called his parents, demanding they hand over the money. For 10 hours, Mr. Orlando was captive, but his parents didn't panic. Instead, they called the police. Within three days, all three men allegedly involved in the plot were under arrest. ("The powers-that-be blow things all out of proportion, and I guess technically it is kidnapping, but in our world, he owed us $5,000," said Tom.)
One of those arrested was Randy Ford, who was 24 at the time. Court records retrieved from the Archives of Ontario show that he was charged with assault causing bodily harm and the forcible confinement of Mr. Orlando. The records do not disclose how the case was resolved. Randy Ford's lawyer at the time, Dennis Morris – currently representing Rob Ford in the controversy over the alleged crack-cocaine video – said he did not recall the incident. He questioned the allegations surrounding the Ford family's past: "What's the point, other than a smear campaign?"
Since his brothers became leaders of Canada's largest city, Randy has largely remained in the background. Like them, he has blond hair and a wide frame; he also drives a Cadillac Escalade. One of the few times he has been photographed by the media was for a Toronto Star article during the 2010 election campaign. He posed with his brothers in front of a portrait of their father at the family business, where Randy oversees manufacturing. During the election-night speeches at the Toronto Congress Centre, he stood silently behind Doug, wearing a dark cowboy hat.
But in the past, he was much less low-key. Whether on his motorcycle or at the helm heel of the family sailboat – The Raymoni – he always went full throttle. When he fought, which was often, it was usually a one-sided affair.
"He was a terror," said Leo, another former associate of Doug Ford.
Numerous sources identified Randy Ford as former drug dealer, including one who identified himself as former partner, but he and Doug maintained distinctly separate operations. "Doug, being savvy as he was and as business-minded as he was, knew his brother was just too volatile," said "Justin," the street-level dealer who said he was supplied by Doug Ford.
The eldest Ford sibling, Kathy, has been subjected to media scrutiny over the years, primarily because she has been linked to a number of bizarre, violent and sensational incidents.
Most recently, in January, 2012, her long-time boyfriend, a convicted cocaine and hash dealer named Scott MacIntyre, was charged with threatening to murder the mayor at his Etobicoke home. He eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser offence and was given credit for time served.
(In a brief interview with CBC after the alleged death threat, Doug Ford said: "To be honest with you, I really don't know Scott MacIntyre." Photographs and video taken on the night of the 2010 election show that Mr. MacIntyre was part of the small group of family members celebrating with the new mayor, his wife, Renata, and Doug.)
Ms. Ford's relationship with Mr. MacIntyre is even more perplexing because of an earlier incident: In 2005, he and another man were accused of shooting her in the face during an altercation in her parents' basement. She survived the blast and was rushed to hospital, while Mr. MacIntyre fled in her mother's Jaguar. Crown prosecutors later dropped numerous charges against him, while his co-accused, Michael Patania, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a handgun.
But even before that, there was gunplay – and it was fatal. Seven years earlier, Ms. Ford's lover was fatally shot by her ex-husband, a drug addict named Ennio Stirpe. At his trial, Mr. Stirpe testified that his victim, Michael Kiklas, was a martial artist, which forced him to bring along the shotgun as "an equalizer."
Not mentioned in the press at the time was the fact that Mr. Kiklas was a white supremacist – a group with which Ms. Ford associated in the 1980s.
Her friends included Gary MacFarlane, a founding member of the short-lived Canadian chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as the late Wolfgang Droege, perhaps the most notorious white supremacist in Canadian history, a former Klansman told The Globe in an interview. Two other former associates of Ms. Ford confirmed her association with known white supremacists.
Among Mr. Droege's numerous criminal endeavours, he also sold cocaine and marijuana, which led to his death in 2005 when he was killed by a customer. Mr. Droege was incarcerated for much of the 1980s in U.S. prisons – both for drug trafficking and for his role in a bizarre plot to overthrow the government of Dominica in the Caribbean.
The former Klansman, who agreed to answer questions by e-mail on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Kathy Ford was close to the movement, but he said he couldn't recall meeting any of the Ford brothers. He described hanging out in the Fords' basement and being snubbed by Doug Sr. when Ms. Ford invited him to a party on the family boat. Her father, the former Klansman said, clearly did not approve of his beliefs, while she was engaging and fun but hardly a committed soldier in the race war.
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