More than a hundred orthodox Jews gathered outside the federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids Tuesday as the former executive of a kosher meatpacking plant in Postville was sentenced to 27 years in prison. Sholom Rubashkin was convicted on multiple counts of financial fraud. Aaron Goldsmith, one of those who prayed outside the courthouse Tuesday, says Rubashkin was prosecuted because officials felt they had to “justify” the 2008 immigration raid at the plant.
“So there’s a lot of political aspects to this thing. Just think about before the raid how Chet Culver, (Bruce) Braley — so many politicians were standing and saying how we’re not going to tolerate this in our state,” Goldsmith says. “…They had already found them guilty before anybody had actually looked into it.”
Rubashkin’s defense attorney plans to appeal the sentence, as well as the $30-million fine the judge imposed. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Teig says the if the sentence is noteworthy, it’s only because of the magnitude of Rubashkin’s crimes.
“It’s hard to get up to a 27-year sentence for a white collar crime,” Teig said during a news conference. “It is very difficult and the only way he did that was by committing a $26 million fraud, having a sophisticated fraud scheme, committing money laundering that was sophisticated, by getting others involved in his crimes, and by obstructing justice by lying at his own trial.”
Rubashkin was convicted by a jury in November. More than 400 workers were arrested during the May, 2008 raid at the meatpacking plant Rubashkin ran in Postville. His convictions on 88 different charges were centered on financial issues, however, including failure to pay farmers in a timely manner for the livestock they delivered to the plant and bank fraud.