Equal and Fair Justice for Sholom Rubashkin

BY YOCHONON DONN -Judge to Sentence Rubashkin to 27 Years Today

Judge to Sentence
Rubashkin to
27 Years Today

 In a statement
yesterday that has brought
shock and anger to the Orthodox
Jewish world, which has been following
case of
S h o l o m
through the
trial, the federal judge announced
her intention to sentence Mr.
Rubashkin at a hearing today to 27
years in prison. Leah Rubashkin,
Mr. Rubashkin’s wife, said that the
family is “very disappointed” in the
“It is heartbreaking to see the
judge and the prosecution make an
example out of Sholom Rubashkin
at the expense of his family and his
community,” she said. “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 ... and the fight will not be over
until he’s treated like everybody
else in this country.”
Meir Simcha Rubashkin, Mr.
Rubashkin’s son, told Hamodiathat
the ruling is “obviously a bitter pill
to swallow,” but it proves what the
family has been saying: that the
government has been against them
from the beginning.
“This is just another instance
[proving] that this is a case of
overzealous prosecution,” said
Meir Simcha. “Unfortunately it
came at such a heavy initial price.”
The Rubashkins are particularly
bitter at the extra two years added
by Ms. Reade. “Not only did she listen
to the prosecution’s recommendations,
she had to one up
them to 27 years,” said Meir
Simcha. “Baruch Hashem, we still
believe that the Eibishter controls
the world.”
Defense attorney Bob Barr
announced, immediately after the
sentencing memorandum was
released, that Mr. Rubashkin will
appeal the original guilty verdict.
“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.
“The court’s sentence today is even
more than prosecutors asked for,
which is a very disturbing development.”
In a statement released yesterday
by the defense, an ironic coincidental
news item appeared recently
when Mark Turkcan, president
of the bank that claimed Mr.
Rubashkin defrauded them, was
sentenced by a federal judge to a
year and a day in prison for misapplying
$35 million in loans, resulting
in a loss of approximately $25
The sentencing memorandum,
which was placed by U.S. District
Court Judge Linda R. Reade yesterday
at approximately 8:30 a.m. on
the Pacer system — a central website
that all court documents
appear on — was also e-mailed to
the prosecuting and defense attorneys.
The former manager of
Agriprocessors was also ordered to
pay $18.5 million to First Bank
Business Capital, the plant’s largest
lender; $8.3 million to MB
Financial Bank, another lender;
and $3,800 to Waverly Sales, Inc.,
which received late payments for
cattle from the plant.
Ms. Reade also said that the 27
years will be followed by five years
probation. The actual sentencing
will take place today at 3:30 p.m. in
the federal court in Cedar Rapids.
Mr. Cook said he spoke to Mr.
Rubashkin yesterday, and he
described him as calm and focused.
Ms. Reade explained her rationale
for exceeding even the recommendations
of the prosecution by
saying that the two years were
added since Mr. Rubashkin lied
under oath when he denied falsifying
store receipts. Mr. Rubashkin
will argue in an appeal that he had
never falsified documents.
But Mark Weinhardt, a former
Agriprocessors attorney who
argued Mr. Rubashkin’s state child
labor trial called the 27-year sentence
“unusual” since it exceeded
the government’s recommendation
“regardless of the reason.”
“It is more than Jeffrey Skilling
of Enron got, more than Bernard
Evers of WorldCom got, and more
than many other multimillion dollar
fraud cases that the defendant
received a lesser amount,” said Mr.
The Princeton-and Dartmoutheducated
attorney told Hamodia
yesterday that no one on the
defense team expected the sentence
to be released yesterday. “I
did not expect it and I don’t know
anyone on our team who expected
it,” said Mr. Weinhardt.
Mr. Weinhardt said that considering
the fact that the judge could
have given a life sentence — there
are no minimum or maximum sentencing
guidelines in federal cases
— she followed her own instincts in
coming up with the number twenty-
“It is not a situation where she
gave the maximum, it is also not a
situation where she rubberstamped
what the government
said,” said Mr. Weinhardt.
Mr. Rubashkin oversaw the
plant in Postville, Iowa, which
gained attention in 2008 after a
large-scale immigration raid in
which authorities detained 389 illegal
immigrants. The plant filed for
bankruptcy months after the raid,
and was later sold. Prosecutors
claim evidence of the massive fraud
scheme was uncovered during an
investigation by a court-appointed
Prosecutors later alleged that
Mr. Rubashkin intentionally
deceived the company’s lender and
that he directed employees to create
fake invoices in order to show St. Louis-based First Bank that the
plant had more money coming in
than it really did.
Mr. Cook portrayed Mr.
Rubashkin as a rabbi turned businessman
who was in over his head.
He said that both Mr. Rubashkin
and the bank never read the loan
agreement, since the loans were
granted based on Mr. Rubashkin’s
In her memorandum, Ms.
Reade rejected defense arguments
that because of Mr. Rubashkin’s
charitable work and 17-year-old
autistic son Moishe, he should be
given a more lenient sentence.
“No matter Defendant’s
motive,” wrote Ms. Reade, “he
defrauded the victim banks out of
millions of dollars. ... 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.”
Bob Teig, a spokesman for the
U.S. attorney’s office, said prosecutors
can collect the restitution by
seizing Mr. Rubashkin’s assets. But
he said it was too early to tell
whether the full amount would be
Prosecutors and defense attorneys
have scheduled press conferences
after the hearing today to
speak about the case.
In a conference call with
reporters yesterday afternoon, Mr.
Cook referred to several high profile
fraudsters in the news who
came off with substantially less
prison time than Mr. Rubashkin
now faces.
Mr. Cook mentioned the 24-
year sentence of former Enron
CEO Jeffrey Skilling, who was convicted
in 2006 on 19 counts of conspiracy,
securities fraud, insider
trading and lying to auditors following
the energy company’s collapse
in 2001 that cost billions of
dollars. An appeals court has ruled
he should be re-sentenced.
Mr. Cook said he plans to ask
the court to place Mr. Rubashkin at
the federal prison in Otisville, N.Y.
or at Fort Dix, N.J., because both
are equipped to handle Orthodox
Jewish customs and practices and
are closer to Mr. Rubashkin’s family
in the New York area.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Rubashkin
said yesterday she is planning to
move with her family to New York,
where she expects her husband to
be interned. The founder of the
Postville community has been living
there for 19 years, making it
hard for some Postvillers to imagine
life without the Rubashkins.
“They are the lifeblood of
Postville,” said Meir Simcha, referring
to his parents. “I spoke to
someone [in Postville] today, its
like Tishah B’Av there.”

Number of Visitors