Agri Child Labor Trial Nears


agriThere may not be any serious punishment in store for Agriprocessors Inc., the former Postville meatpacking company at the center of a state of Iowa child labor case. But that doesn’t mean prosecutors are willing to drop misdemeanor charges against bankrupt Agriprocessors or six former managers facing charges.

Attorneys for the state and some of the defendants traded notes during a pretrial conference Wednesday in Black Hawk County District Court, and Judge Nate Callahan quickly cut to the chase.

“Is Agriprocessors still a legal entity, or has it died?” the judge asked.

Assistant Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said the corporation hasn’t been dissolved, and he planned to keep the company as a defendant. Six executives and employees are also defendants.

Keeping the corporation on the docket may allow prosecutors to introduce evidence that wouldn’t otherwise be admissable.

Agriprocessors remains in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is where it landed shortly after immigration agents raided the company’s Postville facility in May 2008.

Most fraud and immigration charges connected to the raid have played out in court, but the state child labor cases remain.

If convicted of the remaining charges, the corporation could face monetary sanctions. But the state likely wouldn’t be able to collect the fines because it would come in at the end of the line behind creditors in bankruptcy court.

The bankruptcy trustee hasn’t hired an attorney to defend the company in the child labor case.

Callahan plans to submit a request to have Reb Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, a former manager, available for the May 4 trial. Reb Sholom Mordechai likely will be sentenced to prison by the time the state trial starts.

During the hearing, Miller said he expects to proceed to trial against three defendants, apparently hinting at possible pleas before a jury is seated. The number of charges – currently there are more than 9,000 – will also be pared down.

Defendants include owner Reb Aaron Rubashkin, Reb Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, and human resources workers Elizabeth Billmeyer, Laura Althouse and Karina Freund.

Another defendant, Jeffrey William Heasley, a beef production supervisor, will be tried separately.

Please continue to daven for Reb Shalom Mordechai ben Rivkah.

Significant funds must still be raised for the legal defense. Anyone who can help out and lend support should take a moment to send a donation to the Pidyon Shvuyim Fund. The help of Yidden across the globe is severely needed.

You can easily donate by clicking on the following link:


Alternatively, you can mail contributions to:

Pidyon Shvuyim Fund

53 Olympia Lane

Monsey NY 10952

{WCF Courier/Noam Newscenter}