A trial has been postponed for a former prison convict who used to mentor other prisoners.
In May, Najmuddeen Abdus Salaam, 46, of Marion, pleaded not guilty to a charge of possession of drugs and trafficking in drugs, which are first-degree felonies, and was scheduled to stand trial on Aug. 9.
However, a notice of substitution of counsel was filed on July 18 and J.C. Ratliff, a Marion defense attorney, joined the case as Salaam’s defense attorney.
Ratliff then filed a motion asking the court to postpone the trial to allow Ratliff time to review the case and prepare. Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David Gormley granted the motion Monday but a new trial has not been scheduled, court documents indicate.
Salaam was stopped in Delaware County by troopers from the Delaware post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol on May 15 who said they found what they suspected to be cocaine.
A Delaware County grand jury indicted Salaam on May 25.
The indictment also carries a specification stating that Salaam is a major drug offender. Gormley said the specification means that if Salaam is convicted, he will face the maximum sentence of 11 years for a first-degree felony.
Assistant county prosecutor Brian Walter said Salaam was being investigated by Marion police and the Ohio State Highway Patrol for several months. Walter said Salaam made 22 trips between Columbus and Marion during the investigation. Walter said that Salaam would go to several homes for a few minutes and leave.
Troopers from the Delaware post report they stopped Salaam in the area of U.S. 23 on May 15, called for a police dog and a performed a search on the vehicle. When troopers searched Salaam, they said they found a white-powder substance in a plastic bag wrapped in duct tape in his pants. Walter said tests determined it was cocaine. Walter added there were about 249 grams of the drug.
After the stop, Salaam was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine and trafficking in drugs.
Troopers also report they confiscated three cellphones, two laptop computers and more than $1,000 in cash during the stop.
Walter told Gormley that Salaam was convicted on rape and kidnapping charges in 1991 and served 18 years in prison — until his release in 2009. Since his release, he has reportedly been involved in speaking on prisoner re-entry into society and ways government and organizations can help. Salaam reportedly began mentoring other prisoners during his sentence at the Marion Correctional Institution and continued after his release.
He was still in the Delaware County jail Friday afternoon.