Concerns Grow in Jewish Community as Rubashkin Faces More Than 20 Years in Prison


rubashkin1[Donate link below.] The defense team for Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court the lower courts’ decision to deny bail before sentencing next month.

Rubashkin’s counsel, led by appellate attorney Nathan Lewin, filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court on March 11, asking the high court to overturn the decision of the lower courts denying Rubashkin bail pending his forthcoming sentencing. He has now taken the additional step of making a direct application to Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who presides over the Iowa judicial district in which Rubashkin’s case is being heard, to grant Rubashkin his immediate release on bail pending his sentencing and appeal.

Lewin asserts that federal prosecutors were overzealous in Mr. Rubashkin’s prosecution from the start, submitting him to considerably more severe restrictions and potential punishment than other employers targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials for hiring even larger numbers of illegal workers than were discovered at Agriprocessors. He further points out that the judge presiding over Mr. Rubashkin’s case improperly allowed prejudicial evidence of alleged immigration infractions, despite the fact that the only charges against Mr. Rubashkin related to alleged bank fraud.

As reports of these and other irregularities in the case have filtered down to the grassroots community, several Jewish organizations have joined in questioning the basis for prosecutors’ assertion that Rubashkin is a flight risk who must remain imprisoned before sentencing. They are also critical of the federal government for relentlessly targeting Rubashkin over the last two years, seemingly to retroactively justify the massive 2008 raid on the Agriprocessors plant – which included Black Hawk military helicopters and more than 600 federal agents – that economically destroyed the town of Postville and left the company bankrupt.

Mr. Rubashkin’s bank fraud convictions were for inflating invoices to expand a line of credit he used to operate his business, even though timely payments were made on the loan and the bank appeared uninterested in the accuracy of the invoices.

Prosecutors were allowed to include inflammatory evidence regarding the employment of illegal workers at the bank fraud trial, even though the judge had previously ruled such evidence would prejudice the jury and had severed the immigration and bank fraud cases for that very reason. The charges regarding harboring illegal immigrants were eventually dropped.

Perhaps most dismaying, prosecutors fragmented two basic charges into 163 counts in seven superseding indictments. And the prosecutors have shown unusual harshness in resisting Mr. Rubashkin’s request – even with the posting of a large bond and his hiring of a round‐the‐clock private guard – to spend the first days of Pesach and celebrate the Sedorim with his family.

“We are deeply concerned about the seeming pattern of overzealous prosecution in this case,” said Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of the National Council of Young Israel.

Similarly, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, reported that “the volume of e
‐mails and phone calls we have received about the Rubashkin case has reached a loud crescendo in recent weeks, as the full horror of how he is being singled out for harsh treatment has become strikingly clear.”

Rabbis Lerner and Zwiebel, along with representatives of other Jewish groups, are exploring ways of expressing their deep concern to the federal prosecutors in Iowa as well as the Justice Department at the national level.

In the meantime, private advocates for Rubashkin have launched a “Justice for Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin” Web page at

Despite the fact that the jury found in a special interrogatory that Rubashkin did not profit personally from false invoices presented to the lending bank, prosecutors have indicated that they view an appropriate prison sentence as being in the 21 to 27 year range. Rubashkin is the father of 10 children, including an autistic teenage boy who depends heavily on him.

Members of the community who wish to communicate their respectful concern over the handling of the Rubashkin case and the excessive sentence they are seeking, are urged to contact the Justice Department – Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison at 202‐5143465 or and sign an online petition available at

Letters and other correspondence for Reb Shalom Mordechai may be sent to:

Linn County Correctional Center

Inmate Shalom Rubashkin

P.O. Box 608

Cedar Rapids, IA 52406-0608

Make sure to write a return address or the mail will not be delivered to him.

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

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  1. The website mentioned in the article asks concerned Yidden to call the Justice Dept’s Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liason @(202)514-3465,or by e-mailto:
    Together,we can BEzH”Y make.a difference!