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50,000 sign pro-Rubashkin petition to White House

JTA

October 24, 2011 | 6:37 pm

Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa. Photo by Matthew Walleser/Wikipedia

Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa. Photo by Matthew Walleser/Wikipedia

An online petition in support of jailed kosher meat executive Sholom Rubashkin garnered 10 times its anticipated goal of 5,000 signatures.

The petition, which calls on President Obama to order an investigation into judicial misconduct in Rubashkin’s financial fraud trial, garnered 51,605 signatures.

Created Sept. 22 by the Justice for Sholom organization, the petition was posted on the White House’s We the People website, which was launched by the Obama administration to encourage public participation in government. Its goal was 5,000 signatures by Oct. 22.

On Sept. 26, an appeals court in St. Louis turned down a motion for a new trial for the former executive of Agriprocessers, once the nation’s largest kosher meat plant. The court ruled that the presiding judge in the original case, Linda Reade of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, did not have to recuse herself because she was involved in planning the May 2008 federal immigration raid on the Agriprocessors plant, which led to the company’s bankruptcy later that year.

Rubashkin was convicted of financial fraud in 2009 and sentenced to 27 years in prison, two more years than requested by prosecutors. He is serving his sentence in New York State.

Several dozen members of Congress and a few U.S. attorneys general had written in favor of leniency in Rubashkin’s sentencing. In the federal raid on the plant, 389 illegal immigrants were arrested, including 31 minors.

The petition calls on Obama to “To take prompt and effective steps to correct the gross injustice that has been perpetrated with the federal prosecution of Sholom Rubashkin.”

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