Cocaine rabbi 'stereotyped as drug dealer'

By Jonathan Kalmus, November 23, 2009
Baruch Chalomish

Baruch Chalomish

The rabbi accused of financing a professional cocaine supply business, which involved prostitutes and run by a Muslim partner, is the "victim of a racial stereotype of rich Jew financing a poor Muslim".

That was the claim made by Rabbi Baruch Chalomish's defence barrister, Jonathan Goldberg QC, in his final speech to the jury in Manchester Crown Court today.

Prosecuting, Michael Goldwater QC contended that both men were found in possession of large amounts of cocaine and the rabbi with over £2,000 cash at the central Manchester flat in which they were arrested last January.
He said the rabbi's co-defendent, Nasir Abbas, "arranged the drugs, girls and customers, Chalomish arranged the money."

But defending Rabbi Chalomish, Mr Goldberg said: "The Crown is resorting to a very crude racial stereotype. You've got a wealthy Jew and an impoverished Muslim, and the Jew has to be financing the Muslim. But where is the evidence?"

He asked the jury to consider whether finding a rabbi with £1500 worth of drugs made him a drug dealer, when the man admitted to having a cocaine addiction costing £1,000 a week, was worth £7m, kept thousands of pounds in his house to give to charity, and who had given millions to good causes. "I've never heard such piffle," said the barrister.

You've got a wealthy Jew and an impoverished Muslim, and the Jew has to be financing the Muslim. But where is the evidence?

Jonathan Goldberg QC

He contended that Rabbi Chalomish had turned to drugs as his anti-depressants after his wife died of cancer, and had taken to using prostitutes to cure the loneliness that was "killing him."

The prosecution accepted Rabbi Chalomish was "not a professional drug dealer" and that it was "inconceivable" he could have sourced the drugs or customers himself. Mr. Goldwater also accepted that Mr Abbas had been convicted previously of a "serious conspiracy to supply a class A drug" which led to his imprisonment for 10 years.

Defending Mr Abbas, Oliver Jarvis said he had nothing to contend for his client, since he had failed to turn up for the trial, only that the jury had to consider the case on the evidence rather than bad character references. He claimed the evidence was not sufficient to convict his client as a drug dealer.

Earlier the jury heard nine letters written by teachers and rabbis in the strictly Orthodox Jewish community, highlighting dozens of people Rabbi Chalomish had helped through interest -free loans and donations.

Rabbi Chalomish wept in the dock as a three - page letter written by his GP, Dr Wayne Davis, said the rabbi and his wife, Freda, were a "model of happiness and respectability".

Dr Davis said that after Mrs Chalomish died he had prescribed anti-depressents for the rabbi. The court also heard that the rabbbi fell further into an "unstable" state when a second marriage, embarked on with the hope of rehabilitating his personal life, fell apart in a matter of weeks and ended in a difficult divorce.

The case continues.

Last updated: 1:14pm, November 24 2009