Cocaine-snorting rabbi Baruch Chalomish cleared of drug dealing
Philippe Naughton • London Times
A multi-millionaire rabbi who enjoyed cocaine-fuelled parties with prostitutes wept today as he was cleared of dealing drugs.
Rabbi Baruch Chalomish, 54, held his head in his hands, head bowed, muttering to himself as he wiped tears from his eyes before leaving the dock on bail at Manchester Crown Court.
The father-of-three spent £1,000 a week on “the best cocaine in town” to go to parties with GPs and surgeons while paying prostitutes for sex, the court heard.
Chalomish, worth £7 million through his property dealings, had been accused of financing a drug-dealing business with his friend and co-accused Nasir Abbas, the jury was told.
But today the rabbi was cleared of supplying cocaine after the six-day trial heard the “eminent and leading” member of the Manchester Jewish community had spiralled into a lifestyle of drugs and sex following the sudden death of his first wife.
He admitted being the “best customer” of Abbas - but denied they were in a drugs business. Chalomish pleaded guilty to one count of possession of cocaine and was found guilty of a further count of possession but cleared of two more serious charges of possession with intent to supply.
Abbas, 54, described as the “leading player” in organising the parties, failed to turn up for the trial and is now on the run. He was convicted of one count of possession and one count of supply and jailed in his absence for six years.
Judge Michael Henshell told Chalomish he would be bailed for the preparation of reports before sentencing and had in mind a community penalty after being told members of the defendant’s own community will now help him get rehabilitation for his drug and alcohol use.
Turning to the jury he added: “You have listened to an extraordinary case, not the usual case of drug dealing or possession of drugs.
"You heard facts really outside my experience, dealing with a man who is a leading and eminent member of his own community, who was in possession of drugs and on trial for the serious offence of supply. I’m sure you could not fail to be moved by the facts you have heard.”
Earlier the jury heard how on January 5 police raided a city centre apartment in Manchester rented by Abbas used for the cocaine parties.
The rabbi’s home address, on Upper Park Road, Salford, was also raided and at both properties cocaine and large amounts of cash were seized. In the apartment, cocaine was found in the bedroom, on a glass tray and in a bowl, along with rolled up banknotes used for snorting the drug and credit cards used for chopping the drug into lines.
Similar paraphernalia and quantities of cocaine were also found at Chalomish’s home, mainly in a rear bedroom, along with £15,345 in cash.
Chalomish sobbed as he told a jury he was “deeply ashamed” of taking the drug and did it only to stop feeling depressed and lonely after the death of his wife, Freda, 40, in 1996.
The jury heard the couple were married in 1978 and he received a £70,000 dowry from her wealthy family in Sunderland, which he used to invest in commercial property. After she died of liver cancer he remarried but it ended in disaster after just six weeks and the couple split.
An Israeli friend introduced him to drugs and then he met his co-accused Abbas and they would go to parties at apartments around Manchester to take cocaine alongside “distinguished people” such as surgeons and GPs, the court heard.
Chalomish was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, and came to England aged 23, where he worked for a time as a rabbi in Glasgow. He was also made life president of a Jewish religious college in Manchester. He will be sentenced on December 17.