A court in Iowa is anticipated to issue a ruling in the coming days on an appeal filed by the attorneys of Sholom Rubashkin (56), the jailed Iowa kosher slaughterhouse executive sentenced to 27 years in prison for fraud and money laundering.
A month-and-a-half ago Rubashkin's lawyers submitted the appeal asking to reopen the case, after they argued that new evidence was found placing doubt on the manner of his sentencing.
Rubashkin's lawyers say federal prosecutors interfered illegally with the bankruptcy sale of Agriprocessors, Rubashkin's kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa, by ensuring that no members of the Rubashkin family were among the plant's buyers. The company sold for $8.5 million despite its $35 million line of credit.
The 52-page appeal brings evidence to try and prove that there was collusion between the prosecution and the trustee appointed to Rubashkin's factory by the court. Through this collusion they allegedly aimed to prove that Rubashkin caused irreversible damage, and thereby impose the particularly harsh sentence of 27 years on him.
Senior attorneys worked on the appeal for around three years, during which time they succeeded in gathering protocols and conversations between the prosecution team and the trustee. According to Rubashkin's attorneys the findings show they did all they could to ensure the factory would be sold far below its actual value and therefore cause greater damage to the banks, a scenario which landed Rubashkin with the stiff sentence.
"From the evidence submitted it becomes clear that if the prosecution team hadn't gotten involved, it would have been possible to sell the factory and his assets for $40 million, which would not have caused significant damage," reports the haredi paper Hamevaser on Monday.
If he had been allowed to sell the factory for that price, the paper assesses that "in the worst case scenario the accused would have been sentenced no more than 30-37 months in jail, and not 27 years as he was sentenced."
Rubashkin, a Chabad hassid and father of ten, managed a massive kosher slaughterhouse in Iowa for many years and at his peak he employed nearly 2,000 workers.
Three years ago nearly 700 of his workers were arrested in a police and FBI raid on the factory, over accusations that Rubashkin employed illegal foreign workers and minors.
Throughout the trial Rubashkin's lawyer argued that the judge had ulterior motives and that despite the hiding of evidence she decided to convict Rubashkin with the full sentence of 27 years, in addition to a $31 million fine.
Rubashkin was given backing in May, when 100 officials signed a letter of support for him.