Imam prostitution case to go to trial
Nearly one year after being nabbed in a prostitution sting during the holy month of Ramadan, a jailhouse imam is still proclaiming his innocence in a case set to go to trial in September.
Charles Bilal, an imam at Rikers Island and in Jamaica, allegedly paid an undercover cop, posing as a hooker, $25 for sex in August 2011. He was arrested at around 11 p.m. at a Howard Johnson Inn on Rockaway Boulevard near 137th Avenue in South Jamaica.
Bilal’s lawyer, Elliot Leibowitz, said the religious leader went to the location to meet a friend and did not have any interaction with the undercover cop whom the NYPD said he propositioned.
"Everyone in the community knows my character — how I try to keep the neighborhood clean from drugs and prostitution,” Bilal said in an interview with the Chronicle last Thursday. "Why would I, at the same time, be dirtying it up again by soliciting a prostitute?” (...)