A British multi-millionaire rabbi who was convicted of possessing cocaine that he took at debauched parties was spared jail today.
Rabbi Baruch Chalomish (aged 54) who has a personal fortune of £7m (€7.86m), admitted one count of possessing cocaine and was found guilty of a further count of possession after a six-day trial.
Judge Michael Henshell, sentencing him at Manchester Crown Court, imposed a six-month supervision order, ordered him to complete 60 days of community work and pay court costs of £3,899.22 (€4,380.08).
The rabbi was an “eminent and leading” member of Manchester's Jewish community who stuffed money-filled envelopes through the letterboxes of those less fortunate, his trial heard last month.
He spent £1,000 (€1,123) a week on “the best cocaine in town” and partied alongside GPs and surgeons while paying prostitutes for sex.
The father-of-three threw himself into drugs and sex following the sudden death of his first wife, the jury heard.
On January 5, police raided a city-centre apartment in Manchester used for 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 dilapidated home, along with £15,345 (€17,232) in cash.
Chalomish sobbed as he told a jury he was “deeply ashamed” of snorting the drug and did it only to stop feeling depressed and lonely after the death of his wife, Freda (aged 40) in 1996.
After she died of liver cancer he remarried, but it ended in disaster after just six weeks and the couple split.
Chalomish came to England from Israel aged 23, and worked for a time as a rabbi in Glasgow. He was also made life president of a Jewish religious college in Manchester.
The jury cleared him of two counts of drug dealing. His co-accused Nasir Abbas (aged 54) who is on the run, was convicted of one count of possession and one count of supply and jailed in his absence for six years.
Judge Henshell acknowledged the rabbi’s religious training and his generosity. He told him: “However you had a secret life, as it was referred to.
“Your secret life, which has been exposed in the glare of publicity, has, I’m quite certain, brought a degree of recrimination from members of the public and not only from your own community.
“You will have found that the publicity the case attracted has brought upon you a degree of contempt from people who have known you.
“This is an appropriate case for a community penalty, for a man of your age and good character.”
He said the rabbi had partaken in “intensive work to combat your addiction” at a rehabilitation centre and added: “You were heavily addicted to cocaine, and have been suffering from withdrawal.
“Withdrawal from a Class A drug will be a difficult task for you to address but I’m sure with the help of those around you.... it’s a task you will accomplish.”
Jonathan Goldberg QC, Chalomish’s defence counsel, told reporters: “Rabbi Chalomish is very grateful to the judge for his understanding and position.”