Page last updated at 19:19 GMT, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Rabbi 'offered cocaine for sex'

Rabbi Baruch Chalomish
Chalomish denies two counts of intent to supply the drug

A rabbi financed a drug-dealing business and offered cocaine to girls in exchange for sex, a court heard.

Rabbi Baruch Chalomish, of Upper Park Road, Salford, rented an apartment where he could "relax and have a party", Manchester Crown Court heard.

Police raided the Salford flat and discovered a total of 101 grams (3.6oz) of cocaine and more than £17,000.

Chalomish, 54, admits two counts of possessing cocaine but denies two of possession with intent to supply.

His business partner Nasir Abbas, 54, has failed to turn up for the trial and is being sought by police, the court was told by Michael Goldwater, prosecuting.

He faces one charge of possessing cocaine and one of possession with intent to supply.

'Commercial supply'

Mr Goldwater said police found both defendants at the one-bedroom apartment during a raid on 5 January.

Forms showed that it was rented from the firm Premier Apartments in the name of Mr Abbas.

He said: "Our case is that Abbas and Chalomish were dealing in controlled drugs.

"They were running, we say, a commercial cocaine supply operation from an apartment-hotel in Shudehill, Manchester.

"Rabbi Chalomish also had a substantial store of drugs, cocaine, and cash at his home address."

Drugs paraphernalia was found in the bedroom, including about 6g (0.2oz) of cocaine, rolled up banknotes and credit cards.

He said Shell [the rabbi] wanted to relax and have a party at the flat
Michael Goldwater, prosecuting

Mr Goldwater said the purity of the cocaine varied in strength from 29% to 82%.

Cutting agents to dilute the drug were also discovered, along with about £2,400 in cash, he said.

Mr Goldwater told the jury that the purity of the cocaine was higher than the UK average of 28%, a fact they might find "significant".

The jury heard that when interviewed by police, Mr Abbas said he knew the rabbi as "Shell" and rented the apartment on his behalf.

Mr Goldwater said: "He said Shell wanted to relax and have a party at the flat.

"He said there had been a lot of people come through the flat in the last 10 days, most of them girls."

Mr Abbas told detectives that Shell did not sell drugs - but did not mind if others wanted to take them.

"He said he had seen Shell putting white powder in a glass dish and mixing it with another substance, and anyone visiting was free to help themselves."

Sexual services

Mr Goldwater told the jury that Mr Abbas had a previous conviction for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs in March 1996.

During his final police interview, Chalomish told officers he bought large quantities of cocaine for himself and often used it when he could not sleep, the jury heard.

Mr Goldwater said the prosecution did not exclude the possibility that there might be some truth in what Mr Abbas told the police.

"That some of the drugs were given to young women who came to the flat and that one or more of those young women may have provided sexual services," he added.

"We do say that it was essentially a commercial operation.

"Nasir Abbas had the know-how, knew the drugs business, had the contacts, he would know where to obtain the drugs, how much to pay and how to find customers.

"Rabbi Chalomish would not have necessarily had the knowledge, we say Chalomish was the financier, he put up the money."

The trial was adjourned until Thursday.

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