Who Is Sholom Rubashkin? Trump Commutes Sentence Of Rabbi Jailed For Fraud

Trump issues first commuted prison sentence

President Donald Trump on Wednesday commuted the sentence of a kosher meat processing company operator from Brooklyn, who had been convicted of bank fraud in Iowa.

The kosher meatpacking plant was raided in 2008, and immigration agents reportedly found around 400 illegal immigrant workers, including many that were minors.

As the official White House announcement notes, justice for Rubashkin, now 57 years old, had been a cause for "bipartisan leaders from across the political spectrum, from Nancy Pelosi to Orrin Hatch".

In 2008, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security raided the plant and arrested almost 400 workers who lacked proper documentation. The commutation is not a presidential pardon - Rubashkin's conviction will stand, as will his terms of release and the restitution payments he will be obliged to pay.

"The President's review of Mr. Rubashkin's case and commutation decision were based on expressions of support from Members of Congress and a broad cross-section of the legal community", the White House said in a statement. Agriprocessors fell into financial hardship following the raid and was veering into bankruptcy, forcing Rubashkin to sell it.

In an email to Rubashkin's supporters, Mr. Apfel expressed the family's profuse gratitude.

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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.

Many Jewish organizations in the United States also expressed their happiness at Rubashkin's release.

In fact, six amicus briefs were filed with the Supreme Court supporting Rubashkin's appeal-which the court refused to touch, from 86 former federal judges and Department of Justice officials (27 federal judges, two Attorneys General, one Inspector General, two FBI directors, four Deputy Attorneys General and one Solicitor General), the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Washington Legal Foundation, 40 legal ethics professors, the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, and the Justice Fellowship.

In 2009, Rubashkin was convicted of defrauding a St. Louis bank by using fabricated numbers to obtain a $35 million line of credit for the bank, resulting in the 27-year prison sentence.

"The outrage is backwards", he said, in reference to concerns the sentence was harsh. The plant was eventually purchased by Canadian billionaire Hershey Friedman and is now currently known as Agri Star Meat and Poultry.

One of those prosecutors, former assistant USA attorney in Iowa Robert Teig, told the Des Moines Register that Rubashkin "couldn't win legally, factually or morally, so he had to win politically".

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