Jewish Journal


May 3, 2010

Rubashkin: I should not have entered the family business


With a federal judge expected to issue a sentence in his case later this month, a former kosher meatpacking executive expressed regret for his actions—and entering the family business.

The two-day sentencing hearing in the financial fraud conviction of ex-Agriprocessors official Sholom Rubashkin was held last week in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Linda Reade reportedly indicated that she will issue her ruling May 27.

At least 10 witnesses spoke on Rubashkin’s behalf, including a psychiatrist who interviewed him in jail. The psychiatrist said Rubashkin expressed regret for the harm he had caused himself and others, the Des Moines Register reported. Several former business partners and family members also testified.

In his testimony, Rubashkin reportedly said that he made mistakes and expressed remorse. He described himself “a conflicted and flawed human being”—as someone who was thrust into running the family business without adequate training or interest.

“Conflicted in that I allowed myself to be drafted into my family’s business against my wishes and better judgment,” Rubashkin said, according to The Associated Press. “I basically should have stayed in teaching and being an emissary” for the Lubavitch movement.”

The Agriprocessors plant in the Iowa town of Postville was the site of a federal raid in May 2008.

Federal prosecutors submitted a sentencing memorandum last month requesting life imprisonment based on their reading of federal sentencing guidelines. Rubashkin’s attorneys have requested that he be sentenced to no more than six years in prison.

Sentencing memos filed by prosecutors in the case accuse Rubashkin of bribing Postville Mayor Robert Penrod. Rubashkin was not charged with bribery, but the presiding judge can take such accusations into account when deciding on a sentence. Rubashkin’s attorneys told the Register that Agriprocessors made a loan to Penrod under duress from the mayor.

Rubashkin supporters held prayer services on his behalf in cities throughout the country and around the world April 27, the night before the start of the two-day hearing. They describe him as a kind, charitable father of 10 who may have committed crimes but does not deserve a life sentence.

Earlier that day, six former U.S. attorneys general in a letter to Reade criticized prosecutors’ request that Rubashkin be sentenced to life in prison.

Federal immigration officers raided the Agriprocessors Postville plant in 2008, arresting hundreds of employees. The raid set the company on a slow slide toward bankruptcy.

Prosecutors dropped immigration charges against Rubashkin last November, just days after a jury convicted him of financial fraud.

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