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More employees leave Toronto mayor's office amid crack scandal

TORONTO, May 31 (UPI) -- A sixth member of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's staff quit Friday, two weeks after published reports described a video showing Ford appearing to smoke crack cocaine.

Michael Prempeh, one of two young so-called special assistants in Ford's office, resigned Friday, The Toronto Star reported.

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The resignation comes just days after province officials advised against destroying any office records.

Prempeh's departure was not solely due to the scandal, the newspaper said. He had apparently told co-workers he planned to leave.

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His resignation comes one day after policy adviser Brian Johnston and executive assistant Kia Nejatian resigned.

Ontario's information commissioner sent Ford a letter Wednesday to caution against anyone in his office destroying emails and phone records of former staffers, the Star said.

"Any inappropriate destruction of records has the potential to seriously erode the public's trust and confidence in the city of Toronto as an accountable and transparent government institution," wrote Ann Cavoukian, the province's transparency watchdog.

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In reply, Ford's office said: "At no point did any member of the mayor's office order the records of former employees to be erased."

The Star reported Wednesday workers in Ford's office were balking at an order to destroy email and telephone records. The report did not say who issued the order.

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Toronto police said Thursday Hanad Mohamed, 23, of Toronto was arrested in Alberta and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Smith, 21, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in March, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported. Nisar Hashimi, 21, was charged in April in Smith's killing.

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Smith is shown with his arm around Ford in a photo provided to Gawker and the Star by the same people who showed the publications the video of Ford appearing to smoke crack cocaine and using homophobic and racist slurs.

Ford has denied using crack and said "there's no video," but the Star reported Thursday Ford told senior aides in a May 17 meeting in his office not to worry about the video because he knew where it was.

The report said Ford, citing "our sources," told his aides the video was in two 17th-floor units of a Toronto apartment complex.

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