A rabbi from northwest Britain has been accused of financing a drug-dealing business and offering cocaine to girls in exchange for sex, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported Wednesday.
Rabbi Baruch Chalomish, of Upper Park Road, Salford, is said to have rented an apartment where he could "relax and have a party". Police raided the flat and discovered a total of 101 grams (3.6 ounces) of cocaine and more than £17,000 (about $28,567).
Chalomish, 54, admitted two counts of possessing cocaine but denied 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 Manchester Crown Court was told by prosecutor Michael Goldwater. He faces one charge of possessing cocaine and one of possession with intent to supply.
According to the BBC, Goldwater said police found both defendants at the one-bedroom apartment during a raid on January 5. Forms showed that it was rented from the firm Premier Apartments in the name of Abbas.
"Our case is that Abbas and Chalomish were dealing in controlled drugs," he said. "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."
According to the prosecutor, drugs paraphernalia was found in the bedroom, including about 6 grams (0.2 ounces) of cocaine, rolled up banknotes and credit cards. Cutting agents to dilute the drug were also discovered, along with about £2,400 ($4,033) in cash, he said.
He told the jury that the purity of the cocaine was higher than the UK average of 28%, a fact they might find "significant".
'Anyone was free to help themselves'
The jury was told that when interviewed by police, Abbas said he knew the rabbi as "Shell" and rented the apartment on his behalf. "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," Goldwater told the court.
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."
The jury heard that 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.
Goldwater said the prosecution did not exclude the possibility that there might be some truth in what 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, stressing that "we do say it was essentially a commercial operation."
The prosecutor told the jury that Abbas had a previous conviction for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs in March 1996. "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 expected to continue on Thursday.