The body of Giorgio Roncari, a 61-year-old Italian, was discovered at his two-bedroom flat on Blackburn Street in the Trinity area of Salford.
A post mortem examination has concluded it was neck compression that killed Mr Roncari, formally known as Giuseppi.
The Manchester Evening News has revealed that on March 17 he appeared at Manchester Crown Court, where he entered not guilty pleas to three charges of possessing class A drugs with intent to supply. He was due to go on trial in September.
It is understood that the charges came after a raid on February 17 when police called at his apartment with a warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Officers searched the property and found drugs in the bedroom and the living room in retail quantities, including 78g of cocaine, 274g of skunk cannabis, and 28g of cannabis resin.
Mr Roncari worked in several venues in Manchester and had been a manager at the now closed Avalanche restaurant in the city centre.
A former colleague said: “He was a lovely man. He was the front of house manager there. It’s such a shame.”
It is understood Mr Roncari had also worked for a while at the now closed Home restaurant in Altrincham. At the time of his death he was the director of restaurant company D and G.R. Ltd, registered to his Salford home.
Det Insp Andy Butterworth, of GMP’s Major Incident Team, told the MEN: “In this extremely sad set of circumstances, I’d like to extend my condolences to Giuseppi’s family and all those affected by his death.
“We need people with information about his death to contact us so we can provide answers for his family who will have to deal with this traumatic news.”
Anyone with information is asked to call GMP on 0161 856 5351 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.