Sholom Rubashkin, head of Agriprocessors, a kosher slaughterhouse in Iowa, was just convicted on 86 counts of fraud.
His sentence was 27 years in federal prison. Parole is not allowed in the federal prison system.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Linda Reade, gave the defendant two extra years for perjuring himself in court. The prosecution had requested 25 years originally.
In an unusual procedure, Judge Reade, of the Northern District of Iowa, released a 52-page memorandum on Monday, a day before the scheduled sentencing hearing, in which she explained her decision.
Prosecutors had used a government formula to determine that Rubashkin’s crimes warranted a term of life in prison. Though some of his supporters find it difficult to comprehend, the 25 years requested by the prosecution was actually a very lenient term compared to the immensity of the crime for which he was convicted.
Rubaskin’s lawyer had earlier turned down the government’s offer of a 12 year prison sentence.
Dr. Erik Camayd-Freixas, who had worked as an interpreter for the court in the aftermath of Postville, had this to say about the almost endless parade of workers whose lives Rubashkin ruined:
“Then began the saddest procession I have ever witnessed, which the public would never see, because cameras were not allowed past the perimeter of the compound (only a few journalists came to court the following days, notepad in hand). Driven single-file in groups of 10, shackled at the wrists, waist and ankles, chains dragging as they shuffled through, the slaughterhouse workers were brought in for arraignment, sat and listened through headsets to the interpreted initial appearance, before marching out again to be bused to different county jails, only to make room for the next row of 10. … They had all waived their right to be indicted by a grand jury and accepted instead an information or simple charging document by the U.S. Attorney, hoping to be quickly deported since they had families to support back home. But it was not to be. They were criminally charge with “aggravated identity theft” and “Social Security fraud” — charges they did not understand … and, frankly, neither could I.”
Nearly 400 immigrants who worked in the plant, most from Guatemala, served federal prison sentences of up to five months for identity theft and were deported.
The orthodox Jewish community is speaking out but not with a united voice. Some commenters at the Vos iz neias site, a Brooklyn, NY religious site, for example, have noted that Rubashkin brought this on himself, a fact he freely admits. However, most orthodox Jewish commenters severely criticized the verdict.
Rubashkin, a 51-year-old father to 10 children, emotionally apologized to the court, the community and his family Thursday during the sentencing hearing. He contends that he was pushed into a family business he did not relish, and faced significant pressure from his family to do things he knew were wrong.