Defense Attorney Hammers Witness at Rubashkin Trial


sioux-fallsA former top officer at Agriprocessors Inc. claimed on Thursday that there was poor oversight by its lender as he testified against his old boss. Yomtov “Toby” Bensasson, the self-proclaimed “traffic cop” of the meat plant’s accounting department, said former Agriprocessors executive Reb Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin oversaw a plot to route profits into the company instead of the bank where money was supposed to go.

The former slaughterhouse controller told federal jurors that field audits conducted by First Bank Business Capital – the plant’s lender – were not as detailed as reviews he would have done.

The statement came in response to a question by Rubashkin’s lawyer, Guy Cook,¬†about whether the reviews were thorough.

“By my standard, no,” he said. “I wouldn’t have done them that way.”

Bensasson testified that Rubashkin, the former vice president, believed that federal agents had bugged the meat plant and his phones.

Attorney Cook hammered Bensasson about the plea deal he struck with federal prosecutors in exchange for his cooperation. Bensasson has pleaded guilty to one fraud conspiracy charge in August, although he admitted this week that he falsified company records to defraud First Bank. It is believed that Bensasson is saying what the prosecution wants to hear as part of a plea deal.

“Good morning,” Cook said today. “Sir, do you want to go to prison?”

“Nobody wants to go to prison,” Bensasson said.

“You nevertheless have convicted yourself” of the conspiracy charge, Cook said.


“And you face a fine of as much as a quarter-million dollars, and restitution?”


“You pleaded guilty, convicting yourself?”

“Yes, sir.”

Bensasson testified at one point that Rubashkin cashed in his own life insurance policy to keep the plant operational.

Bensasson said he agreed with Cook’s description of Rubashkin as a “well-intentioned man.”

Later, federal prosecutors raised the subject again.

“Mr. Cook asked you your opinion about whether he was a well-intentioned man,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan Jr. “Do you have any opinion about whether he was a law-abiding man?”

Cook objected. U.S. District Judge Linda Reade agreed. Bensasson never answered.

{Des Moines Register/ Newscenter}