One year later, authorities are still searching for a Marion man who cut off his GPS tracking device and fled before he could change his plea for possession of drugs and trafficking in drugs charges in Delaware County Common Pleas Court.
Najmuddeen Abdus Salaam, 47, was scheduled to appear in court for a change of plea hearing on Oct. 10, 2016 before Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David Gormley. At the time, Salaam was charged with one count of possession of drugs and trafficking in drugs, which are first-degree felonies.
However, at the Oct. 10, 2016 hearing, Gormley said he received a message a few days prior asking him to give his magistrate permission to issue a warrant for Salaam after Salaam removed his ankle monitor and disappeared.
Salaam has been at large ever since.
Officials from the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office said Monday that there is still an active warrant for his arrest.
Salaam had been out of jail on a $150,000 bond when he cut his GPS monitor and fled. On Nov. 28, 2016, Gormley ordered that the bail-bonds company forfeit $150,000 to the court and ordered them to pay $15,000 every month until they reached the $150,000 total or until Salaam was recaptured. Court records indicate the final $15,000 deposit was made in September of this year.
Both of Salaam’s charges carry specifications stipulating that he is a “major drug offender” and, according to the Ohio Revised Code, the specification would require Gormley to sentence Salaam to the maximum sentence for any charge that carries the specification. According to the ORC, Salaam would face 11 years in prison for either drug charge.
According to court documents, the investigation into Salaam began when Lt. Chris Adkins of the Marion Police Department received a tip that said Salaam, who was working as a counselor at the Marion Correctional Institute, was using his position to smuggle drugs into the prison.
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 alleged 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 said about 249 grams of the drug was contained in the plastic bag found in Salaam’s possession.
Troopers also reported they confiscated three cellphones, two laptop computers, and more than $1,000 in cash during the stop.
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, 2016.
Walter told Gormley at Salaam’s May 27, 2016 arraignment that Salaam was convicted of 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 about prisoner re-entry into society and ways government and organizations can help facilitate that process. Salaam reportedly began mentoring other prisoners during his sentence at the Marion Correctional Institution and continued to do so after his release.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.