Sholom Rubashkin, former manager of the Agriprocessors kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, was convicted yesterday in federal court of 86 financial fraud charges. Rubashkin’s sentencing date has not yet been scheduled, but he will likely be sentenced to hundreds of years in prison, the AP is reporting. In addition, he still faces a second trial on 72 immigration charges. Agriprocessors declared bankruptcy last year several months after a federal immigration raid in which nearly 400 undocumented workers were arrested.
In a jury trial held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (defense attorneys feared that Iowa jurors would be biased against Rubashkin because of pretrial publicity), Rubashkin was found guilty of bank fraud, making false statements to a bank, mail fraud, and money laundering, the Des Moines Register reports. He was found not guilty of five additional charges of failing to pay livestock providers within a 24-hour window required by law. Defense attorneys “tried to portray Mr. Rubashkin as a bumbling businessman who was in over his head,” said the AP, but prosecutors successfully countered in his closing arguments that “Mr. Rubashkin had been aware of the fraud at the plant and that to assume otherwise was ‘ridiculous.’”
Rubashkin’s attorneys say they intend to appeal. They are also seeking to dismiss the charges related to money laundering because, they say, Rubashkin did not profit from the crime. “It’s unbelievable,” Rubashkin’s daughter Roza Weiss told the Argus Leader, a Sioux Falls paper. “My only comment is, we’re Jewish and we’re proud of it.” The Rubashkins are part of the Chabad-Lubavitch sect of ultra-Orthodox Judaism.
Jury: Fmr. Slaughterhouse Manager Guilty of Fraud [AP]
Sholom Rubashkin Guilty on 86 Charges in Fraud Trial Involving Postville Meat Plant [Des Moines Register]
Rubashkin Found Guilty on 86 Counts [Argus Leader]
Ari M. Brostoff is Culture Editor at Jewish Currents.