Thursday, December 21, 2017
President Donald Trump made news yesterday when he issued his first commutation since taking office, freeing the former CEO of an Iowa kosher meatpacking company. Sholom Rubashkin, who ran the Iowa headquarters of a family business that was the country's largest kosher meat-processing company, was convicted of money laundering in 2009. His prosecution came after federal authorities staged a dramatic raid on the company's plant in Postville, Iowa in 2008, arriving by helicopter and detaining 389 undocumented immigrants, including children.
The infamous Postville raid, which occurred during the Bush administration, was a raid at the Agriprocessors Inc. kosher slaughterhouse and meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa on May 12, 2008, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The raid was the largest single raid of a workplace in U.S. history and resulted in nearly 400 arrests of immigrant workers with false identity papers who were charged criminally with identity theft, document fraud, use of stolen social security numbers, and related offenses. Some 300 workers were convicted on document fraud charges within four days. The majority served a five-month prison sentence before being deported.
The raid received widespread national publicity and criticism, including in this New York Times editorial ("The Shame of Postville, Iowa"). Lawmakers and labor union representatives criticized the Bush administration as disproportionately targeting workers instead of employers. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus met with Agriprocessors′ workers and community leaders in Postville, and Congressional hearings were held.
After the raid, Sholom Rubashkin was charged with fraud. He was convicted on 86 charges of financial fraud, including bank fraud, mail and wire fraud and money laundering.
In November 23, 2009, Rubashkin's second trial on 72 immigration charges was canceled following the government's request to dismiss without prejudice. In its motion to dismiss, the U.S. Attorneys Office said any conviction on the immigration charges would have no impact upon his sentence, writing, "dismissal will avoid an extended and expensive trial, conserve limited resources, and lessen the inconvenience to witnesses."] Federal Judge Linda R. Reade dismissed the immigration charges. On June 22, 2010, Judge Reade handed down a sentence of 27 years, two years more than prosecutors had requested.