From a report by Paul Berger at thejc.com: The former CEO of America’s largest kosher slaughterhouse and meatpacking plant went on trial this week. Shlomo Rubashkin, formerly of Agriprocessors, Inc., faces almost 100 charges.In a separate trial, due to begin after the close of this one, he faces 72 charges relating to immigration violations.
If convicted, Mr. Rubashkin, 49, could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Agriprocessors, in Postville, Iowa, was the scene last May of the largest immigration raid in American history.
More than 300 workers, mostly Guatemalan and Mexican, were rounded up by the US Department of Homeland Security’s immigration arm and put into detention camps.
Agriprocessors went bankrupt following the raid.
It was rescued by Hershey Friedman, a Canadian whose company, SHF industries, bought the firm for $8.5 million. Mr. Friedman has vowed to hire local residents.
The scale of the raid sparked a blaze of such negative media publicity that the trial had to be moved out of Iowa to Sioux Falls, in neighbouring South Dakota.
Rabbi Pinchas Lipschitz, editor and publisher of the largest chareidi weekly newspaper in the United States, Yated Neeman, said Mr. Rubashkin had been scapegoated.
“I expect him to be vindicated,” he said.
Vilified in the press, Mr. Rubashkin remains a hero to some in the Jewish community, particularly in Postville, where he supported Jewish charities and schools.
Scores of Mr. Rubashkin’s Chabad-Lubavitch supporters attended the courthouse for the first day of the trial on Tuesday clutching psalm books and praying, according to the Des Moines Register. Some had travelled on a bus from New York, about 1,200 miles away.
Mr. Rubashkin sat in the courtroom with his wife and 10 children behind him, said the paper.
A number of Agriprocessors employees have already pleaded guilty.
Last month, the firm’s former chief financial officer, Mitchel Meltzer, admitted making false statements to a bank so that the firm could secure the $35 million loan. He faces a possible five-year prison term.
One month earlier, Yomtov Bensasson, another former financial employee, pleaded guilty to the same charges.
The trial continues and is expected to last up to six weeks.
Mr. Rubashkin denies all charges.