Agriprocessors CEO Sholom Rubashkin has been found “not guilty” on all counts of child labor violations in a case that rocked the American Jewish world of kosher meat production.
Jurors acquitted Rubashkin, former head of the "glatt" kosher meat packing plant, of 67 counts on misdemeanor charges in a verdict reached after two days of deliberations following a month-long trial.
The case revolved around 26 former employees from Mexico and Guatemala who testified that they had worked at the plant as teenagers. Prosecutors said some had operated dangerous machinery and that all had been exposed to dangerous chemicals. The state argued that Rubashkin knew the workers were underage and did not remove them or change the plant's employment practices.
Rubashkin was also charged last November with 91 counts of money laundering, bank, mail and wire fraud. He was convicted on 86 of the charges and is to be sentenced later this month.
Prosecutors recommended that Judge Linda Reade send the 50-year-old Chabad Chassid to jail for the rest of his life. By comparison, the recent conviction of a Toyota executive, following several deaths caused by defective vehicles and the recall of thousands of the company's cars, resulted in no prison time at all.
The plant's financial difficulties came in connection to business loans that were immediately called in by the bank after federal immigration agents raided the Postville, Iowa plant in May 2008. A total of 389 undocumented workers were arrested in one day, forcing the plant to shut down. Agriprocessors filed for bankruptcy months later and was subsequently sold.