Trump commutes sentence of Iowa kosher meatpacking executive

Defendant Sholom Rubashkin, right, listens to a witness during his trial on state child labor charges on Friday, May 14, 2010 at the Black Hawk County Courthouse in Waterloo, Iowa.

"Essentially, Mr. Rubashkin was convicted of fraud offenses stemming from inflating collateral to obtain a higher line of credit for Agriprocessors, his father's kosher meat business, and for paying some cattle owners 11 days late", the attorneys wrote. Trump commuted Rubashkin's sentence, effectively cutting short the original sentence of which he served eight years.

A massive federal immigration raid in 2008 at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, led to the arrest of almost 400 undocumented Guatemalans and Mexican workers.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday issued his first commutation since taking office, freeing the former CEO of an Iowa kosher meatpacking company.

With its announcement, the White House enclosed letters from several former U.S. attorneys general and Congress members from both sides of the aisle that raised questions about his conviction or asked that he receive clemency.

The White House said Trump's decision would not vacate Rubashkin's conviction and "leaves in place a term of supervised release and a substantial restitution obligation".

The White House statement cited letters of support for review of Rubashkin's case from more than 30 members of Congress of both parties, including House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and veteran Republican Senator Orrin Hatch.

More than 100 U.S. attorneys general, judges, and other judicial professionals signed a letter to Trump in February, pleading for clemency on Rubashkin's behalf. Prosecutors misled Reade about their actions leading up to the sale when they scared away potential buyers willing to pay more than the eventual selling price of $8.5 million, the defense team said.

News of Rubashkin's release spread rapidly in the Orthodox Jewish community, and was greeted with jubilation by the Lubavitch Chabad Hasidic community to which Rubashkin belongs.

But former prosecutor Bob Teig, who retired in 2011 after serving as a prosecutor and spokesman for the US attorney's office for the Northern District of Iowa, said Trump's decision to commute Rubashkin's sentence "makes no sense" given Trump's repeated promises to get tougher on illegal immigration.

Teig said that every court that looked at Rubashkin's sentence had concluded it was fair, and suggested that former Justice Department officials and lawmakers who supported leniency were unaware of the facts of the case.

"The outrage is backwards", he said.

  • Joey Payne