Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Prosecutors Seeking Life Sentence In Kosher Slaughterhouse Case

Not only is Agriprocessors CEO Sholom Rubashkin standing convicted of defrauding a bank out of $26 million, but he was alleged to have hired illegal aliens in his business. Prosecutors are hoping to use the latter claims in pushing for a life sentence.
Sholom Rubashkin was never convicted of immigration violations and his attorneys dispute the allegations, but they still could be an issue at his sentencing hearing Wednesday on 86 financial fraud charges.

Prosecutors are seeking a life term for Rubashkin, who was found guilty in November 2009 of creating fake invoices to show a lender that the Agriprocessors Inc. meatpacking plant in Postville, in northeastern Iowa, had more money flowing in than it did. The charges followed a May 2008 immigration raid at the plant, where 389 workers were arrested.

In court documents defending their sentencing recommendation, prosecutors said the Social Security Administration had warned Rubashkin he was employing hundreds of illegal immigrants three years before the raid but that he did everything he could "to maintain his illegal underpaid workforce."

Defense attorneys argued that Rubashkin didn't have the authority to hire or fire the workers.

Former assistant U.S. Attorney William Mateja said U.S. District Court Judge Linda R. Reade could factor the immigration charges into her sentencing decision under a legal phrase called "other relevant conduct." Instead of trying and proving the charges against Rubashkin, Mateja said prosecutors need to meet a lower bar: a preponderance of evidence.
Interestingly, several other prosecutors have written letters calling on a far more lenient sentence and that a life sentence is out of line with the criminal conduct - white collar crime.

The shutdown of Agriprocessors (it declared bankruptcy in November 2008) caused a price spike among kosher meat products due to the fact that Rubashkin was a major national supplier.

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