Sunday, May 29, 2011
Daily News Writes Not-So-Friendly Editorial on Sholom Rubashkin's Attempts at Reducing His Sentence
From the Daily News Washington Bureau, by Alison Gendar, titled “Kosher king Sholom Rubashkin asking influential politicians to help lower 27-year jail sentence:”
A well-connected kosher slaughterhouse king convicted of fraud at his Iowa plant has rustled up a herd of New York pols to try to win him a reduced sentence.
The prominent Lubavitcher from Brooklyn, Sholom Rubashkin, was sentenced last summer to 27 years in prison for 86 counts of financial crimes as well as lying on the witness stand.
Yet the disgraced businessman has friends in high places, including Reps. Anthony Weiner, Jerrold Nadler, Eliot Engel, Carolyn McCarthy, Edolphus Towns, Carolyn Maloney, Steve Israel and Yvette Clarke, who have lobbied for a review of his case.
Rubashkin has also enlisted more than 30 other lawmakers from New Jersey to California to voice outrage, along with several former U.S. attorneys general.
The head of the Democratic National Committee, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, used part of her time at a recent hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder to remind him to review Rubashkin's sentence.
Clarke said Orthodox Jewish constituents in her Brooklyn district raised concerns “the punishment did not fit the crime here.”
The possible injustice, coupled with fears Rubashkin's imprisonment would hike the costs of kosher food, prompted Clarke to ask Holder's office to review the case.
“It seemed the sentence was sort of extreme when you look at similar types of cases,” she told the Daily News.
Nadler said Iowa prosecutors argued against bail for Rubashkin “because he was a Jew and eligible to immigrate to Israel....Under that standard, no Jew would ever be eligible for bail.”
Rubashkin is a member of a large and influential Hasidic family that ran the nation's largest kosher slaughterhouse, Agriprocessor, sending turkey, chicken and beef across the country.
“This case is troubling on many levels to me and many of my colleagues,” Weiner said. “From the propriety of the judge, to the possible concealment of information from Rubashkin and his attorneys to the overly harsh sentence. It deserves a second look.”
The Brooklyn businessman was at the pinnacle of the lucrative kosher food world, and through business and marriage is connected to huge swaths of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community, a reliable and sometimes pivotal voting bloc.
“He is an influential man in the community, and people believed he was being persecuted,” said Shmarya Rosenberg, whose blog, FailedMessiah, has blasted Rubashkin.
Supporters say mob hit men and pedophiles don't even get 27 years, let alone a businessman convicted of a nonviolent crime.
“People familiar with the case and its history have felt this was really a case of outrageous treatment of a defendant,” said Rubashkin's lawyer Nathan Lewin.
Rubashkin was arrested in October 2008, five months after the Department of Justice and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers raided his Iowa plant and arrested nearly 400 illegal immigrants.
An Iowa state jury cleared him of criminal charges he knowingly used underage immigrants. Jurors said Rubashkin couldn't be held responsible if teens, some as young as 15, lied and got jobs with fake IDs.
Then an Iowa federal jury found him guilty of a $26 million financial scheme of inflating accounts and laundering money.
His supporters argue not only was the federal sentence excessive, but that Linda Reade, the judge who issued it, never should have heard the case.
She had met numerous times with DOJ and ICE officials before the raid, but did not disclose the extent of the conversations until Rubashkin's appeal team filed a Freedom of Information request.
Rubashkin, 51, is being held in a medium-security prison in Otisville, N.Y. His appeal is to be heard next month.