Judge: Rubashkin To Get 27 Years

Former Agriprocessors executive ‘lied at trial,’ pocketed $1.5 million in fraud; defense says sentence ‘overzealous.

06/21/10
Staff Writer
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A federal judge in Iowa said she plans to sentence Sholom Rubashkin, a former executive at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Iowa, to 27 years in prison and to pay $31 million in restitution for bank fraud.

Judge Linda Reade, chief judge of the Northern District Court in Iowa, wrote in a 52-page sentencing memorandum that the sentence of 27 years is “sufficient, but not greater than necessary,” to comply with the law.

Rubashkin’s wife, Leah, 48, issued a statement saying that it was “heartbreaking to see the judge and the prosecution make an example out of Sholom Rubashkin at the expense of his family and his community. What has happened today is inconsistent with the idea of equal justice under the law. All we have asked is that he be treated the same as everyone else.”

Reade rejected the defense argument that Rubashkin “did not commit the offense for personal gain or out of a sense of greed, but rather ‘in order to continue what he viewed as the critical Lubavitch mission of providing kosher food to the Jewish community.’”

“No matter defendant’s motive,” she wrote, “he defrauded the victim banks out of millions of dollars. He unlawfully placed his family’s business’ interest above the victim bank’s interest. His family business and he personally benefited at the expense of all the victim banks’ innocent shareholders. The court finds that this is not a basis [for leniency] in his case.”

The prosecution presented evidence that Rubashkin in the two years prior to May 2008 had funneled $1.5 million into his personal account. Federal authorities raided his plant that month, arresting 387 plant workers suspected of being illegal immigrants.

Federal immigration charges were dropped in November after Rubashkin, 50, was convicted on 86 counts of fraud. Those charges grew out of the immigration investigation. Rubashkin was later acquitted of state immigration law charges.

Rubashkin’s defense team issued a statement Monday expressing “outrage” at the judge’s decision. “The sentence is greater than necessary; indeed, it is greater than what the government asked for,” said Guy Cook, a member of Rubashkin’s legal team, referring to the government’s request for a 25-year sentence.

Another member of the defense team, Bob Barr, said there would be an appeal of both the verdict and the sentence. And the defense team said they planned to continue asking for a Justice Department investigation into the “pattern of overzealous prosecution in the Rubashkin case.”

“This sentence is inconsistent with the overwhelming view of the legal community, including six former U.S. attorneys general, who have all said a first-time, non-violent offense does not warrant a multi-decade sentence,” Barr said.

Rubashkin’s attorneys had asked the court to impose a sentence up to six years, noting his positive history and character and his extraordinary family circumstances — he is the father of 10, including an autistic child. They contended that Rubashkin's conduct was not done for personal gain, that he did not intend any loss to the bank, and that a 72-month sentence would allow the Bureau of Prisons to place Rubashkin in a facility with experience in effectively and humanely incarcerating observant Jewish inmates.

But both the judge and prosecutors scoffed at the assertion that Rubashkin never profited from his crime. Prosecutors presented evidence that Rubashkin diverted from Agriprocessors $300,000 to pay his credit card bills, $200,000 to remodel his house, $76,000 to pay his state and federal income taxes, $41,000 to pay his mortgage, $25,000 for jewelry, $20,000 for sterling silver, $1,245-a-month for life insurance, and $365 for car payments.

Reade pointed out that Rubashkin’s “conduct kept the family business alive from which defendant withdrew a substantial salary and monetary payments for his personal expenses.”

When the prosecutor signaled his intention to request the stiff sentence, several legal scholars — including more than two-dozen former senior Justice Department officials — wrote to the judge to criticize the severity of the recommendation.

Rubashkin’s sentence is particularly harsh when compared to others convicted of similar crimes, his defense team pointed out.

They cited the case of Mark Turkcan, president of First Bank Mortgage of St. Louis, whose misapplication of $35 million in loans resulted in a loss of approximately $25 million but who was sentenced by a federal judge in Missouri to one year and one day in prison.

“The way this case was handled may go down in history as a permanent stain on American justice,” said Nathan Lewin, an attorney overseeing Rubashkin’s appeal. “Sholom Rubashkin has been targeted by prosecutors in Iowa from the very beginning, and has been treated unlike other similar defendants. We have asked, and continue to ask, the Justice Department to review the numerous instances of prosecutors stepping outside the bounds of standard and decent conduct in this case.”

In addition to what they called “the uncharacteristically severe sentence recommendation,” Rubashkin’s defense team maintained that their client was “subjected to numerous instances of harsh or disparate treatment by prosecutors and the government.”

They cited what they claimed as a “military style raid” on the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, in May 2008, and the arrest of nearly 400 workers immigration charges. The raid, they said, “had disastrous effects on the Postville community and could have been avoided if Immigrations and Customs
Enforcement had agreed to the plant's offer to cooperate.”

After the raid, they pointed out, Rubashkin was “subjected to seven superseding indictments and denied bail before trial because of claims by prosecutors that he could flee to Israel because he is Jewish.” Although eventually released on bail, Rubashkin was denied bail after his conviction because the government claimed he was a “flight risk.”

Although the immigration charges were severed from this trail, “Iowa prosecutors presented more than two days of highly inflammatory testimony regarding the immigration allegations during the bank-fraud trial,” the defense team pointed out, adding that Rubashkin was found not guilty of those crimes in state court.

In her memorandum, Reade detailed the crimes for which Rubashkin was found guilty on 86 out of 91 fraud charges. She rejected the defense contention that Rubashkin did no more than submit false invoices to the bank. Rather, she said, he engaged in a “complex series of fraudulent transactions,” including falsifying years of federal tax records, supporting federal tax documents, bank statements, and profit and loss statements.

“Over a period of many years, defendant created numerous false invoices, bills of lading and collateral certificates,” the judge found. “Many of these documents contained forgeries. For instance, defendant created false bills of lading to accompany the false invoices. In an effort to make the bills of lading look as legitimate as possible, defendant directed that an Agriprocessors employee forge the signature of a truck driver likely to be assigned the route indicated on the false bill of lading.

“In another effort to appear legitimate, defendant went to great lengths to manipulate records in Agriprocessors’ computer-based accounting system to reflect the number of false sales created by falsifying invoices and bills of lading so that the fraud would not be detected during routine audits. Defendant falsified the invoices and other documents and manipulated the accounting system in order to hide Agriprocessors’ actual financial situation from First Bank Business Capital. Accordingly, the court finds that defendant committed bank fraud using sophisticated means.”

Although Rubashkin was not the owner of Agriprocessors, Reade found that he was the person in charge of operations and “exercised significant decision-making authority in the hatching and execution of the fraudulent scheme. He directed subordinate employees on the manner and means of committing bank fraud, money laundering and harboring. … He himself rarely, if ever, drafted the false documents necessary to commit and conceal the bank fraud. These tasks were left to lower-level employees.

"Similarly, he directed [employees] to maintain Agriprocessors’ harboring of undocumented workers. The evidence shows that defendant made it a point to remove himself from the details of the harboring scheme. Defendant also had sufficient control to direct his subordinate employees to adjusted their behavior over time to continue concealing and perpetrating the fraud and harboring as it snowballed into a larger and more complicated scheme. … Defendant’s degree of control and authority was close to absolute. He told his employees when, where and how to commit the various crimes. In light of the foregoing analysis, the court finds that defendant was an organizer or leader of a criminal activity that involved five or more participants or was otherwise extensive.”

An attorney for Rubashkin, Alyza Lewin, said her client was "never given a full and fair opportunity to address and defend himself against the immigration allegations in the federal case. The judge refused to allow testimony he wished to present that would have enabled the jury to hear the full story. In a subsequent state case that dealt with employment issues, he was given the opportunity to present his full case and was acquitted by the jury."

Reade wrote also that Rubashkin “lied at trial under oath” and that his “lies were willful … [and] material because they related directly to the nature of his involvement in the offenses of conviction.”

For instance, she said he lied when he claimed never to have asked an employee to create bills of lading to match false invoices – directly contradicting the testimony of the employee and the fake invoices and bills of lading introduced into evidence.

“The defendant’s testimony on this matter is incredible,” the judge wrote. “By perjuring himself at trial, defendant willfully obstructed or impeded … the administration of justice.”

“The defendant’s obstructive conduct in the instant action was more excessive than that involved in a typical financial crime case …,” Reade said.

And she rejected the pleas of Rubashkins’ lawyers who said his charitable and civic work, as well as the fact that he has an autistic 16-year-old son, should be mitigating factors.

“Like most human beings, defendant’s character includes good traits and bad traits,” she wrote. “In light of defendant’s character as a whole, the court finds that his charitable and civic nature does not warrant [leniency]. Additionally, it is entirely possible that a number of defendant’s charitable deeds were funded with proceeds from his crimes. It is far easier to be generous with someone else’s money instead of one’s own.”

Regarding his autistic son, Reade said the child is fortunate to have a “loving and competent mother as well as an extremely tight-knit, supportive extended family, all of whom are obviously devoted to him and accustomed to working with him.”

The judge also rejected the defense claims that Rubashkin suffered from depression that “impaired his judgment,” saying the assertion was “unsupported by any credible and independent physician.”

 

 

 

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Last Update:

07/13/2010 - 11:52

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This whole Rubashkin is very troubling to me. It seems that if the government has something against you, they can tear you down totally and completely. Leading up to the raid on Agriprocessors the government painted the company as one of the worst drug producing and sexual abuse hubs in the country, lead by a drug king Sholom Rubashkin. But in the end it all boiled down to inflating invoices… yes it’s a crime but does it deserve to destroy a huge company? Destroy thousands of jobs? Put a father of 10 – with a long history of community service – in jail for LIFE? Did he scheme to defraud and steal money for the bank? Did he have any intention NOT to repay every last penny of the loan? That is until the government directly caused it to go bankrupt? And after they filed for bankruptcy protection, when attempting to sell the company to minimize the loss to the debtors, the US GOVERNMENT threatened serious potential buyers with Forfeiture if they employ ANY member of the Rubashkin family – even those not charged with anything!!! – Basically turning away all serious investors. Rubashkin’s were ONLY ones with intricate knowledge of the national kosher meat industry, and without their input, it would be very difficult to succeed. Then, after causing serious buyers, willing to pay in the vicinity of 25 million dollars for the company to turn away, the government charges Sholom Rubashkin for causing a $27 million dollar loss to the bank… who caused the loss to the bank? This is a sad chapter in the US justice history…
criminals only care about themselves they are the ones who make children,abuse them and their mothers and then leave, those deserve to be in jail. free Rabbi Rubashkin and allow him to care for his family allow him to continue being a Good Father and husband and a community member. not only did his family benefit but we the community who depend on Kosher food we benefited and still want more of his input in our lives and also he employed people and those people and their families benefited.if he lied in a moment of panic why use it against him stop tomenting him,just because he has an extended family does not exempt him from loving and caring for his child with a condition my point is that he needs to be there at home with his wife and children.
B"H what an outrageously horrible situation. This makes me afraid to be living in America. What has become of this land of the free? Free Rubashkin and give him the chance he deserves!!!!!
IT GREIVES ME TERRIBLY THAT AFTER SO MUCH THILLIM BY everyone and so much excellent lawyers, this should be the outcome.that the "bank" (which is not a bank but a loan shoppe) didn't back him up, that the prosicuters were overzealous is beyond belief. keep fighting rubashkin!
how would she feel in HIS place?????
Shame on Iowa
I feel the same what every one in "AMERICA" feels, this country is known for "JUSTICE " the case of "SHULOM RUBASHKIN" we saw just the opposite more than two dozen former senior Justice Department officials – including six former U.S. attorneys general – said it would be an “absurdity” for a sentence of life in prison !!!!!!!!!!!
Judge Linda Reade, yimach sh'mah, in her delusions of maintaining the integrity of the American Justice System, has effected quite the opposite. She has not only created a textbook example of miscarried justice, but has successfully besmirched the ENTIRE system. It is a well-known fact that tacit -- if not overt -- anti-Semitism is ALIVE and KICKING in America's heartland. She is fully consumed and saturated with this mentality, and no wonder. She reflects the environment in which she lives. Be that as it may, no one will change her or her verdict, or her ability to view matters from an alternative angle. BUT she has no business meting out justice to anyone. "The Guardian of Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers." The A-mighty has His account and Sholom Mordechai knows and accepts this. This is a very painful process and is open for all manner of speculation as to how and why. Rest assured that there is no truth or justice like that of G-d's holy Torah, and both are united with His People. Sholom Mordechai will certainly merit real justice and will enjoy exoneration from the sitra achra, very soon. Fellow Yidden -- family, friends, supporters -- the true G-d of Israel PROTECTS! We do not despair of our faith so easily. In the darkest of hours, the A-mighty can change everything in the blink of an eye, and He most certainly will!
“This sentence is unfair. This sentence is excessive. This sentence is not in the public’s interest.”
Yes, this proposed sentence of 27 years is truly outrageous. Remember, this case came about because of employing illegal immigrants, something about 1/2 of the businesses in this nation do. As for the fraud: the sooner he gets out, the sooner he can pay the $31 million fine! Life in jail is outrageous, when the ratings agencies did the exact same thing! They got people to invest on false pretenses that the investment was safe when they knew (or should have!) that it was not!! This case stinks of hatred of Jews! More time than murderers and rapists! very cruel. He should get time-served, or one year, so he can spend the rest of his life paying back the $31 million fine!! He did many good things for the world, giving thousands jobs, and can do more if not lockd up like this! What a travesty of "justice"! Free Sholom!!
It is an outrage and sounds more like communist Russia than America.
This judge is absolutely outrageous and should be banned from ever hearing another trial
Free Sholom Rubashkin! Professor William L. Anderson Explains Tomorrow, Sholom Rubashkin, who was the vice-president of what was once the largest kosher meat processing supplier in the world, will be sentenced to federal prison for “financial fraud.” Prosecutors will ask for essentially a life sentence, while a lot of other people, including a number of former U.S. attorneys general, are asking for leniency. I will go against all of them. Sholom Rubashkin, in my view, does not need “leniency.” He needs to be freed, period, for the man is not a criminal, which is more than I can say for the people who hounded and prosecuted him and destroyed his business, glatt kosher Agriprocessors of Postville, Iowa. Let me begin. read full article: http://williamlanderson.blogspot.com/2010/06/free-sholom-rubashkin.html
Amen! Iowa is evil.
The federal government has been notoriously harsh when it comes to the few Jews it has encounted in the criminal justice system but also in general: Ethel & Julius Rosenberg sentenced to death Jonathan Pollard sentenced to life Lena Mindy Rosenthal (Helmsley) 16 years Bernie Madoff 150 years Does anyone see a pattern here? And the judiciary crying "flight risk" based on a Jew's rightful connection with Israel, is it any wonder with that type of "justice" being handed-down? Also the Judge's assessment of the credibility of Rubashkin from the bench, lack of compassion, and the government's prosecutioral overzealousness... how does this government's attitude to the Jew differ from indemic anti-Jewish bias of the pre-WW2 Polish government? The answer: it doesn't. And with the hostility of this particular administration to Israel... you gotta question, what are we working toward in these United States, when we all know that beyond any doubt, that had Rubashkin or even Madoff (think Enron exec who got only 24 years) been another ethnic minority he would never have even been arrested let alone be in a position of facing this multi-decade sentence in federal prison. And think about it in terms of "proportionality," how many murderers walk after 5 years and how much time will the BP execs get for raping the gulf coast, and the wall street execs for shaking-down mainstreet? It's too late for Rubashkin to flee but the rest of us still can and should do so in droves. Let America try building itself up with the 20 million illegal aliens that it gladly accepts although it gleefully turned away shiploads - de facto and de jure through strict enforcement of immigration quotas - of refugees from the Nazi ovens because their papers weren't quite in order.
The USA closed Agri and then 3/4 of the State of Iowa flooded; but not postville! The USA financially wiped out Agri/Rubashkin; then the USA got financially devastated. The USA has Sholom waiting to see what will happen to him; The USA has pictures of the Gulf of Mexico: red and the USA is waiting to see what will happen to the USA... We all wait to see what punishment the USA will hand down on itself; I think a gulf hurricane will come and pick up that oil and drop that oil all the way up the Mississippi and a tornado will hit, can you guess where? Sholom lost the business and residences, and have you noticed how many Americans are losing their residences? The government wiped out the kosher meat/chicken plant; and now looks like your gulf coast shrimp got wiped out. Guatemalans were imported to testify against Sholom, and the earth opened and swallowed parts of Guatemala! Guess what; Pharaoh: he laughed also…

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