The former chief executive of what was once the country’s largest kosher meatpacking plant was convicted of more than 80 counts of financial fraud in 2009, following a massive immigration raid on the family-owned facility in northeastern Iowa. Prosecutors said he had profited off the labor of hundreds of undocumented immigrants, some of them children, and had bilked lenders out of more than $26 million.
Though Rubashkin was cleared of immigration and child labor violations, a federal judge sentenced him to 27 years in prison, longer than some defendants receive for murder. For the middle-aged father of 10, it amounted to a de facto life term.
An array of lawmakers, law enforcement officials and legal experts claimed his case had been tainted by egregious misconduct by prosecutors. His supporters included five former attorneys general, among them Michael Mukasey, who headed the Justice Department when Rubashkin was charged.
The Obama administration rebuffed the efforts. But on Wednesday December 20 2017, President Trump commuted Rubashkin’s sentence. Trump made the decision at the urging of officials, scholars and congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
Rubashkin, now 57, had served more than eight years in prison. He was released on Wednesday from the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, N.Y., where his wife picked him up.
Agriprocessors filed for bankruptcy shortly after the immigration raid. Prosecutors drove away several prospective buyers, including one who offered to $40 million for the company. The apparent goal was to make sure that none of Rubashkin’s family members could take over. When Agriprocessors was eventually sold for $8.5 million, the company’s lenders were left with huge losses.
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