A rabbi caught with more than £15,000 in cash and 100g of cocaine was dealing to girls in exchange for “sexual services” a court heard.
Baruch Chalomish, 54, and his friend Nasir Abbas, were caught in possession of cocaine with a purity of up to 80 per cent by police who searched a serviced apartment in January this year.
Police later searched the rabbi’s home on Upper Park Road, in Salford, and discovered a further 50g of cocaine scattered around the house in different containers.
Abbas claimed that Rabbi Chalomish did not sell the drugs but would allow any young woman who visited the apartment in Shudehill, Manchester, to take the cocaine in exchange for “sexual services”.
Rabbi Chalomish, who is Israeli-born, had an interpreter beside him in the dock, translating some phrases into Hebrew.
Michael Goldwater, prosecuting, said: “Our case is that Nasir Abbas and Rabbi Chalomish were dealing in controlled drugs. They were running a commercial cocaine supply operation from an apartment in Shudehill, and Chalomish also had a substantial store of drugs — cocaine — and cash at his home.
“On January 5 this year, police officers raided Flat 413 of the Premier Apartments.
“Police found both the defendants on the premises. They also found a number of items. The first was a form for the letting of the apartment, in the name of Abbas. Police also discovered evidence of a substantial drug supply operation being carried out from this apartment.”
Mr Goldwater told the jury that in the apartment police found various trays and pans which were used to weigh the drugs, and cut the cocaine.
A significant amount of benzocane, a cocaine cutting agent, was also found, which the prosecution say allowed the pair to reduce the purity of the drug, which increased what they could sell.
The court heard that the apartment was littered with rolled up £5 notes and credit cards with traces of cocaine on them, and various containers — some of which contained over 8g of cocaine.
Three mobile phones were found at the scene, the court heard — one belonging to Abbas was found to have a message setting out drug transactions.
The jury heard a list of similar items which were found at the rabbi’s home. In total, there was 101.4g of cocaine recovered from the two premises.
More than £2,000 in cash was seized from the apartment, and a further £15,345 in cash was recovered from the house.
The court heard that while Rabbi Chalomish made no comment to the majority of questions put to him in interview, Abbas had claimed that the drugs belonged to his co-defendant.
Mr Goldwater said: “In interview, Abbas said he knew Chalomish as Chel. He said he rented the apartment on Chel’s behalf and he gave him the money for it.
“He said there were a lot of people that came through the flat over the last ten days, most of them girls.
“He said Chalomish did not sell the drugs, but if anyone wanted to take them they could.
“In Chalomish’s final interview, he said he was a wealthy man who gave money to charity and helped people less well off than himself. He said he always carried cash around with him, and could afford to do so.
“It was put to him that the amount of cocaine recovered was not consistent simply with personal use, to which he replied that if he was buying a packet of cigarettes he didn’t buy them in packs of one or two, but in packs of 20.”
The court heard that Abbas was convicted of conspiracy to supply a class A controlled drug in 1996.
Mr Goldwater continued: “We say that these two men were engaging in a commercial drugs supply operation. We don’t exclude the possibility that there might have been some truth in what Abbas told the police — that some of the drugs were given to young women who visited the flat, and some of those young women may have provided sexual services.
“Abbas had the know-how. He knew the drugs business and had the contacts, and we say that Chalomish put up the money. How he got into the drugs business is unclear. He may have started off as a user, but he may have quickly realised that there was significant money to be made. He had access to sums of money and was able to finance the purchasing of those drugs.”
Nasir Abbas, who failed to attend court for his trial on Wednesday, denies one count of possession of cocaine, and another of possession with intent to supply.
Rabbi Chalomish denies two counts of possession of cocaine with intent to supply, and has pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of cocaine.
The trial continues.