Sholom Rubashkin Convicted of 86 Federal Charges in Fraud Scheme Involving Postville, Iowa, Kosher Meat Plant

The Des Moines Register reports

Sioux Falls, S.D. ­ A jury has convicted Sholom Rubashkin of 86 federal charges for his part in a massive fraud scheme at his former meat plant, Agriprocessors Inc., in Postville.

Jurors declared Rubashkin guilty of bank fraud, making false statements to a bank, wire fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering and aiding of abetting.

The jury found him not guilty of five counts of violating a law requiring payment of livestock providers within 24 hours.

Rubashkin’s attorney, Guy Cook, said they will appeal the decision.

Rubashkin, 50, was immediately taken into custody. As he was led out of the courtroom, he blew a kiss to his family and well-wishers.

A decision will be made Nov. 18 on whether Rubashkin can post bail. A sentencing date was not set.

Rubashkin had been offered a plea deal by federal prosecutors prior to the start of the trial, but told supporters that he would not accept because he was innocent, a close family friend told The Des Moines Register today.

The Rabbi Shea Hecht, chairman of the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education, said Rubashkin’s supporters urged him to take the offer, which would have included prison time.

But the Rubashkin meat plant in Postville, had "moral problems" with the proposal and insisted that he had done nothing illegal, Hecht said.

The plea-deal conversation took place during a meeting with Rubashkin and his lawyers in Crown Heights, a Brooklyn, N.Y., neighborhood and Rubashkin family stronghold, Hecht said.

Hecht said it happened shortly before Yom Kippur, a major Jewish holiday, which this year began at sunset on Sept. 27. Hecht said Rubashkin’s legal expenses – paid by a Brooklyn-based defense committee, of which he is a member – have already exceeded $1 million.

Cook declined to comment about the plea-deal.

Prosecutors alleged during the trial that Rubashkin falsified sales records to defraud the plant’s St. Louis-based lender. The fake invoices and shipping papers created the illusion of sales that had never happened, and allowed Rubashkin to borrow more out of a $35 million credit line.

Rubashkin also allegedly diverted customer payments into the wrong bank account, when the money should have gone directly to lender. Prosecution witnesses testified that Rubashkin used the money for personal expenses and to keep the plant running.

The five-man, seven-woman jury began deliberations on the case Monday afternoon after a nearly month-long trial with more than 60 witnesses and reams of financial documents. They continued deliberations on Tuesday, had Wednesday off in observance of Veterans Day, returning on Thursday. The jury returned to the courtroom at about 4:40 p.m. Thursday.

Rubashkin still faces 72 immigration-related federal charges as well as state allegations that he violated child labor laws. The federal immigration trial is set to begin in December in Sioux Falls.

Agriprocessors Inc. was the site of a May 2008 immigration raid that led to the arrest of 389 immigrant workers. Rubashkin was first charged in late October 2008, but insisted that he was innocent.

Yisroel Pensack:  Eighty-six is the numerical equivalent (gematria) of Elokim, the name of G-d denoting His attribute of judgment.

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