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April 28, 2010

Federal sentencing hearing starting in high-profile Rubashkin white-collar case

As detailed in this Des Moines Register article, which is headlined "Stage set for arguments over Rubashkin sentence," anyone interested in debates over white-collar sentencing ought to be following events in an Iowa federal district court this week:

A fierce debate over Sholom Rubashkin's prison sentence begins in federal court today with arguments over the former slaughterhouse manager's role in a bank fraud scandal, his past, and a chorus of supporters who say the possible life sentence would be too harsh.

Rubashkin, 50, faces sentencing today for his conviction last year on 86 financial fraud charges. Defense attorneys have asked for a prison term no greater than six years; prosecutors argue that Rubashkin's combined actions merit a life sentence.

Rubashkin's supporters have mounted an aggressive letter-writing and public relations campaign to push for a lighter sentence. Defense lawyers also presented Chief Judge Linda Reade with a letter signed by 24 prominent government officials, including former U.S. Attorneys General Janet Reno, Ramsey Clark and Edwin Meese III.

Prosecutors describe the campaign as an orchestrated effort to distract attention from Rubashkin's crimes. The U.S. attorney's office in Cedar Rapids has received more than 1,300 e-mails from Rubashkin supporters with "consistent threads of misinformation," spokesman Bob Teig said.

Teig, who usually declines to comment about Rubashkin and the Agriprocessors Inc. case, said misconceptions have grown so widespread that prosecutors decided to respond. "The focus has really been skewed, trying to paint the defendant as a victim," Teig said.

Rubashkin's backers have shown continued support for the former executive since his November conviction in Sioux Falls, S.D. Their efforts include a "Justice for Sholom" website, press releases from a New York public relations firm and prayer vigils in major U.S. cities.

In interviews, several Rubashkin supporters insisted that the campaign was a grass-roots effort. Busloads of supporters are expected to arrive in Cedar Rapids today from Chicago, Detroit, Brooklyn, N.Y., and other cities, said Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz, a Rubashkin family friend from New York.

Related posts on the Rubashkin case:

April 28, 2010 at 08:46 AM | Permalink


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How odd to have a long excerpt about an upcoming sentencing but omit all mention of what the defendant did to merit any sentencing at all.

Here are two omitted paragraphs about the government's and the defense's versions:

"Among the expenses were $300,000 for credit card bills, $200,000 to help remodel his home, $76,000 for personal state and federal income taxes, $25,000 for jewelry and $20,000 for sterling silver.

"Defense lawyers countered at trial that the expenses were tied to legitimate business and religious dealings. They argued, for instance, that the Rubashkin home was often used to entertain business guests, and the silver was used for religious purposes."

I take no position on how long this guy's sentence should be; I don't have enough specifics to make a judgment. But you don't have to have been an adult for long to know this: When you raid the business for thousands for jewelry, home remodeling, catching up on your taxes and sterling silver, not to mention whatever expensive toys are getting swept up with the "credit card bills," the idea that these are business expenses is preposterous. They are personal luxuries, period. If you want them, fine, use your salary to buy them. Or if your salary isn't big enough, you might actually consider this radical alternative: DO WITHOUT. But something like that is just not on the table when you can steal your way to a fat cat life.

The disgraceful prostituting of religion the defense lawyers have done in this case should remind us of the wisdom of the Constituion's barrier between church and state. No district judge should be infuenced by a religious campaign. If we want religion to dictate judicial outcomes, we know where to go -- Iran. Somehow I doubt Mr. Rubashkin would do all that well there.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 28, 2010 9:38:20 AM

Bill don't worry, Judge Reade won't be distracted by a religous campaign. Whatever the prosecuter reccommends, is what he'll get...She only sides with the government and does so on each and every
task...You should make the trip and see how things were run in the early 90's, still the same in Cedar Rapids, Iowa....

Posted by: Goodyr | Apr 28, 2010 9:50:03 AM

Judge Reade wasn't distracted when the "prosecution" of detained illegal aliens came before her and she dispensed with legal counsel or confidentiality for them. She's still on the federal bench. What a prize jurist.

Despite the palaver of these two repetitively uncongenial bloggers, a life sentence is being considered, perhaps, for Sholom R. because he's strange, Jewish and rich, and Jewish.

Posted by: FluffyRoss | Apr 28, 2010 11:07:33 AM

Fluffy, whatever the USA pursues for a sentence
is pretty much what Sholom will get...The outcome is unlike 2 USA, Judge Reade almost always sides with the government....Its a slam dunk, pretty much...

No matter how uncongenial you feel the bloggers are on this site, this is close to what will happen. The Booker memo was never received in Cedar Rapids, Iowa...Guidelines are Mandatory..

Posted by: Goodyr | Apr 28, 2010 12:13:54 PM

FluffyRoss' notion that the defendant is being targeted here for being Jewish is preposterous. This is the sort of allegation that only increases anti-Semitism in this country. And any defense that smacks of tribalism similarly only increases anti-Semitism in the US.

Furthermore, this felon is only rich because he stole $25m. Saying that he's being prosecuted for being rich is, well, rich.

Finally, there's nothing strange about this man at all. He's a run of the mill fraudster. He's a lot less successful at it than Madoff or Stanford, and a lot more successful at it than many other fraudsters. But he's just a fraudster. Frankly he's a dime a dozen. I'm confident that the muckety mucks defending this felon will do the same for the next crackhead from the ghetto who gets over-sentenced. He's that normal.

Posted by: Mark Pickrell | Apr 28, 2010 3:24:22 PM

FluffyRoss --

That you would make an undocumented charge of anti-Semitism against a federal judge, and do it anonymously and with no evidence, is worse than unfortunate.

The love of light sentencing has gotten to the point on this blog that no one except Mark Pickrell takes exception to your smear. I guess it's enough that you attack a high sentence for Rubashkin. Have we come to the point here that those who loudly congratulate themselves on their devotion to "fairness" sit silent while this sort of thing goes on? Any kind of attack, no matter how low-ball, gets a pass as long as the attack is on a tough sentence?

My, my. High-mindedness is such a sometime thing.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 28, 2010 4:41:24 PM

Would your argument be the same if these were mandatory maximums? Mandatory maximums would fulfill the the "fairness" argument.

Posted by: beth | Apr 29, 2010 12:41:11 PM

no offence to this judge! but if this statement is even CLOSE to true she needs to removed and prosecuted herself!

"Bill don't worry, Judge Reade won't be distracted by a religous campaign. Whatever the prosecuter reccommends, is what he'll get...She only sides with the government and does so on each and every

the numbers don't lie. If your siding with one side or the other 100% of the time. YOUR either retarded or prejuised! In EITHER case you have no business being a judge.

Sounds more like a wanna be cop in a judges robe!

Posted by: rodsmith | Apr 29, 2010 12:43:18 PM

RodSmith, actually I think she fulfills the role as a USA. Its really sad, sentenceing day is like a tag team. Good defense lawyers, just get deflated and end up walking out the door beatup. Knowing in another district, they'd have done better. Tough sledding...

Posted by: Goodyr | Apr 29, 2010 1:44:39 PM

sounds like it's time for all the attorneys involved in that district to simply refuse to particpate in any case involving this judge. time for a sit down strike!

Posted by: rodsmith | Apr 29, 2010 5:39:37 PM

After a long review of this case, and an intimate look into the players involved, the apparent injustice takes shape. Historically, there hasn't been life sentences tossed out at white collar crimes unless they were so egregious as to be considered "crimes against public policy". After a look at the facts in this case, the actions committed by Mr. Rubashkin are no different in sort to that of a mortgage received with some inflation of equity value in the property or asset. For harsh sentencing to be imposed, as the prosecution suggested, this case lacks evidence of an egregious enough of a crime. If Reade does go for life, and from my dealings with her she might be crazy enough to do, it would be a great injustice. This attorney for one would call in favors to see to it that Reade lose the bench she so clings to, as an apparent disillusionment of honor and respect in an otherwise pathetic existence.

Posted by: william marshal | May 2, 2010 11:31:49 AM

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