Former Agriprocessors CEO Rubashkin Sent to Prison

By Nathaniel Popper

Published November 18, 2009, issue of November 27, 2009.

Sholom Rubashkin, a former executive at the Agriprocessors kosher meat company, was found guilty of 86 counts of bank fraud committed while managing the company’s finances — a verdict that could land him in prison for life.

The guilty verdict from the 12-person jury came November 12, after a four-week trial in federal court in Sioux Falls, S.D. Rubashkin was found not guilty on another five of the 91 counts.

Rubashkin, the son of the company’s founder, was arrested in November of last year. The arrest came in the wake of a massive May 2008 immigration raid at the Agriprocessors slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, in which 389 workers were taken away by federal authorities. Soon thereafter, Agriprocessors filed for bankruptcy, and earlier this year the company was sold to a new owner. Using evidence captured during the raid, the prosecution argued that Rubashkin systematically defrauded a bank that had given the company a $35 million loan.

The judge overseeing the trial is expected to sentence Rubashkin within the next few months. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 1,255 years in prison. Rubashkin’s attorney, Guy Cook, told the Forward that his team was preparing to appeal the guilty verdict on the basis of what he called “legal errors” on the part of the judge and the prosecution.

“The law provides that one can be careless and exercise poor judgment — but that doesn’t equal a crime,” Cook said.

Rubashkin will be tried next on separate charges of violating immigration laws in the hiring of employees. That trial is scheduled to begin December 1 in South Dakota.

Rubashkin had been out on bail, but he was imprisoned after the guilty verdict. Cook said that Rubashkin was treated poorly where he was imprisoned in South Dakota and was forced to remove his yarmulke and tzitzit during a strip search. Cook also said that Rubashkin was not provided with kosher food until he was moved to a facility in Iowa.



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