Kabbalah devote 'should be jailed'

AAP, Australia/April 18, 2008

A Kabbalah devotee and healer, found guilty of being involved in a million dollar northern Sydney cannabis operation, should be jailed, a court has been told. Gilla Mogilevsky, 54, was arrested in July 2006 after police uncovered a hydroponic set-up in adjoining St Ives homes belonging to her three sons Uri, Roni and Aitan Mogilevsky.

The police raid found 998 cannabis plants and more than 8,500 grams of cannabis leaf in a cupboard - all estimated to be worth about $2 million.

Mogilevsky, a devotee of the mystical Jewish movement Kabbalah who runs a pranic, or "life energy'', healing business, was living with her sons at one of the leafy north shore addresses when the crops were discovered.

In March this year, Mogilevsky was found guilty of two drugs charges - cultivating a commercial quantity of cannabis, and of cannabis supply.

The conviction was a huge fall from grace for Mogilevsky who, in 2004, told a Sydney newspaper she had once studied Kabbalah in the US with its most famous devotee, Madonna, her husband Guy Ritchie, and actress Demi Moore.

During that trip she said she also met with the movement's founder Philip Berg. She reportedly opened up the Australian headquarters of Kabbalah when she returned from the United States.

At Sydney's Downing Centre District Court today, prosecutor Roger Kimbell called for a jail term matching that of her three sons, who in July last year were sentenced to a maximum of three years jail with a non-parole period of 11 months.

But Judge Michael Finnane questioned why he should impose the same sentence as her sons when she did not play an equal role in the cannabis operation.

"Why would I do that if they were the ones who organised this enterprise?'' he asked.

But Mr Kimbell disputed claims that Mogilevsky was not involved in the set-up, saying "it appears no one was in charge of this enterprise''.

Mogilevsky was implicated in the drug ring after police footage showed her using an atomiser to spray liquid, clearing plant stalks, vacuuming between crops and removing a rubbish bin.

But her lawyers and her three sons argued Mogilevsky had known nothing of the cannabis plants.

The act caught on film was a ritual cleansing, they had argued, undertaken during a moment of distress after learning of the drug operation.

Such claims were dubious and hard to accept, Judge Finnane said today.

In his submission, Mogilevsky's lawyer Wayne Baffsky urged Judge Finnane to hand down a suspended sentence, or a sentence of periodic or home detention.

"The police regarded Uri as the person being in charge,'' he told the court.

However, Judge Finnane appeared to rule out those sentencing options, saying: "I have some reservations about considering periodic detention in regards to people in the drug scene''.

Judge Finnane reserved his judgment to a date to be fixed.

He continued Mogilevsky's bail.

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