A trial has been set for a former prison convict who used to mentor other prisoners and now faces drug charges.
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, in July a new attorney, J.C. Ratliff, a Marion defense attorney, joined Salaam’s defense and asked that the trial be delayed to allow him time to prepare for the case.
Delaware County Common Pleas Court Judge David Gormley granted the motion and delayed the trial.
According to court documents, the investigation into Salaam began when the Marion Police Lieutenant Chris Adkins received a tip that said Salaam, who was working as a counselor at the Marion Correctional Institute, was using his position to smuggle in drugs.
Marion police worked with troopers from the Ohio Highway Patrol to stop Salaam in Delaware County on May 15 on his way back from what prosecutors say was a drug deal in Columbus. Prosecutors said during the stop troopers found a white-powder substance in a plastic bag wrapped in duct tape in Salaam’s pants.
Assistant Delaware County Prosecutor Brian 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. A Delaware County grand jury indicted Salaam on May 25.
In August, Ratliff filed a motion stating that troopers lacked probable cause to pull over Salaam during the May incident and alleged that the searches were improper searches.
Gormley brought in officers from Marion as well as OHP troopers for a series of hearings on Aug. 11, Aug. 12. and Aug. 15.
After the hearings, Gormley filed a motion stating he believed the stop and subsequent searches were backed by probable cause and dismissed Ratliff’s motion.
A trial was then scheduled for Oct. 11. Prosecutors estimate the trial will take four days.
Salaam was out on bail Thursday afternoon.
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.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.