Awaiting Bail Decision: Reb Shalom Mordechai Received Over 1,300 Letters of Support

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rabbi-lipschutz-shalom-rubashkin-smallReb Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin said today at his bail hearing that he has no intention of fleeing the county and leaving his family and the Jewish community while he awaits a federal trial on immigration charges stemming the unprcedented May 2008 raid at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville.

“I’m man enough to stay,” he said. “I never thought about leaving and have never run away from a fight.”

Reb Shalom Mordechai testified today at the detention hearing in a federal courtroom in Cedar Rapids. He is seeking to be released on bail pending his trial on 72 immigration charges.

Reb Shalom Mordechai was convicted last week by a Sioux Falls, S.D., jury of 86 charges. He faces a prison sentence of hundreds of years.

U.S. District Judge Linda Reade will decide on Reb Shalom Mordechai request sometime in the future.

Guy Cook, Reb Shalom Mordechai’s attorney, argued that Reb Shalom Mordechai had public figure status now and there’s nowhere he could hide without being recognized. He has gained national support and attention during his trial from the Jewish community in New York and around the world.

“All the Jewish community is watching,” Cook said.

Cook submitted to the court over 1,300 letters and emails of support for Reb Shalom Mordechai’s release. He also submitted six letters from prominent rabbonim who are willing to put up their expensive Sifrei Torah as collateral for his bail. Others also are willing to put up more than $7 million in equity on their homes.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Pete Deegan at one point today asked Reb Shalom Mordechai to tell the truth and Reb Shalom Mordechai shot back, “Does that work both ways – I tell the truth and you tell the truth.”

{Gazetteonline/Noam Newscenter}


  1. What email address can we have to give him further support? If more names would be helpful, I’d love to be part of it.
    Please post some way we can send him our chizuk.

  2. Atalissa, IA – Double Standard? Non Kosher Plant Has 9000 State Wage Violations, Pursued As Civil Mattar Not Criminal Published on:   Today at 02:12 PM
    Last updated on:
    Atalissa, IA – The U.S. Department of Labor is suing Henry’s Turkey Service for allegedly paying its mentally retarded workers $65 per month to work in an eastern Iowa processing plant.
    The lawsuit filed this morning by the U.S. Department of Labor names Henry’s Turkey Service as a defendant, as well as a corporate affiliate, Hill Country Farms, and one of the companies’ owners, Kenneth Henry. Co-owner Jane Ann Johnson, the widow of Henry’s founder Thurman Johnson, is not named in the lawsuit.
    Company officials could not be reached for comment this morning, and they have yet to file a response to the lawsuit.
    Nine months have passed since county, state and federal authorities descended on the eastern Iowa town of Atalissa and evacuated the dilapidated bunkhouse where dozens of mentally disabled processing plant workers lived over the past 33 years.
    The men were employees of Henry’s Turkey Service, a Texas labor broker that provided the men with food and lodging in return for most of the wages they earned while working in the West Liberty Foods plant in Muscatine County.
    The bunkhouse was shut down by the state fire marshal shortly after the Des Moines Register asked state regulators why the 21 mentally retarded laborers were living in what appeared to be an unlicensed care facility or group home. State health investigators concluded that the men were dependent on others for their daily care and weren’t capable of living on their own.
    The lawsuit filed by the Department of Labor alleges that Kenneth Henry, while living in Texas, directed the company’s Atalissa operation by making several visits to the Iowa site each year and by making weekly calls to the eastern Iowa couple who were paid to look after the men in the bunkhouse.
    The department alleges that Henry’s Turkey Service paid the men only $65 per month “regardless of the number of hours worked,” which resulted in the men receiving less than the minimum wage. Some of the men worked more than 40 hours per week in the processing plant, but were not compensated for their work, the lawsuit alleges.
    The company also failed to keep accurate and complete records of the men’s work hours and wages, the department alleges.
    The department is asking for a court judgment requiring Henry’s to pay its workers unspecified wages dating back to November 2006, plus interest and damages.
    Company officials have said that in addition to the $65 in monthly wages it gave the men, the workers were provided with room and board in the 106-year-old bunkhouse. However, the value of the room and board is unclear. In recent years, the building was marked by boarded-up windows, a recurring roach infestation and a lack of central heating. There were also allegations of neglect and physical abuse of the workers.
    The lawsuit comes just a few weeks after the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation wrapped up its investigation into Henry’s treatment of the men at the bunkhouse. The agency’s findings have been passed on to the Muscatine County Attorney’s office for consideration of criminal charges.
    In March, the county attorney received a report from the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals alleging that Henry’s had been operating the bunkhouse as an illegal, unlicensed care facility.
    County prosecutors have said they were waiting for federal authorities to wrap up their investigations before deciding whether to act on the findings of the inspections department and Division of Criminal Investigation.
    Iowa Workforce Development has alleged 9,000 violations of state wage-and-hour laws by Henry’s Turkey Service, but that case is being pursued as a civil matter, not a criminal case. The agency has imposed a $900,000 fine that’s currently being appealed by Henry’s. A hearing on that matter is scheduled for April 2010.
    In 1998 and 2003, the Department of Labor accused Henry’s and Hill Country Farms of violating wage and hour laws in Atalissa and Texas.
    In 2001, the inspector general at the Department of Labor calculated that Henry’s was deducting a total of $67,200 per year from the Atalissa men’s pay for lodging at the bunkhouse, even though the city was charging the company just $7,200 per year in rent for the building.
    Henry’s also deducted a total of $100,000 from the men’s pay to help construct a for-profit retirement home in Texas, the inspector general alleged. Those findings never resulted in criminal charges, although Henry’s was ordered to reimburse its workers for unpaid wages.
    In the newly filed lawsuit, the Department of Labor acknowledges that it twice notified Henry’s Turkey Service of its obligations under the law as a result of previous investigations into the company’s practices.
    Some of the men who lived in the Atalissa bunkhouse over the past 33 years now live in a bunkhouse located on the Johnson & Johnson Egg Farm in Goldthwaite, Texas.
    That facility is owned by Herman Johnson, the brother of Henry’s founder Thurman Johnson.
    Nine years ago, Herman Johnson agreed to pay $40,000 to the state of Texas to settle allegations that he had abused and exploited the elderly and mentally retarded men who moved to the egg farm from Atalissa when they became too old to work at West Liberty Foods.
    The state alleged that Herman Johnson routinely ordered the men on the egg farm to dig trenches, handle 50-pound bags of feed and do other forms of manual labor. At the time, most of the men were in their 60s. One of the men died, allegedly while unloading bags of feed.

    News Source:  Des Moines Register


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