Judge denies former Agriprocessors CEO release
Sholom Rubashkin

IOWA CITY (AP) — A judge has ordered the former manager of a kosher slaughterhouse to remain in jail despite a promise to hire round-the-clock guards.

Magistrate Jon Scoles denied former Agriprocessors chief executive officer Sholom Rubashkin’s request that he be released pending his trial on charges of harboring illegal immigrants, document fraud and identity theft. He also faces bank fraud charges.

His lawyers said they would appeal the judge’s decision.

Prosecutors allege Rubashkin tried to tamper with evidence after earlier being was released from jail on Oct. 30. He was returned to jail after being arrested on the bank fraud allegations. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges and is being held at the Dubuque County Jail.

The denial was the fifth motion in a back-and-forth between prosecutors and Rubashkin’s attorneys regarding whether Rubashkin should await trial in jail or under house arrest.

In his denial of the defense’s motion, Scoles said the defense didn’t present any new information since the last time Rubashkin was released and then returned to custody.

Among the measures proposed by the defense were 24-hour armed guards who could arrest Rubashkin at gunpoint if he tried to flee.

“Defendant does not offer any additional facts relating to detention, but simply offers additional conditions which he believes will reasonably assure his appearance at trial,” Scoles wrote in the denial.

Rubashkin attorney Guy Cook said the defense also offered a $10 million bond. Cook said he would appeal the denial.

“(Rubashkin is) not a coward,” Cook said. “He wants to face these charges, he wants a trial. He can only defend himself if he’s out of jail.”

In a November detention hearing, prosecutors focused on Israel’s “Law of Return,” which states that those of Jewish descent are allowed to emigrate to Israel and obtain dual citizenship if they aren’t a public threat. They said Rubashkin went to Israel in December 2007.

Rubashkin’s attorneys responded that Israel’s extradition laws would allow him to be returned to the United States for prosecution, and that it wouldn’t make sense for him to flee. In the denial filed Monday, Scoles said he’s assured that Rubashkin won’t flee to Israel.

Cook said the focus on Israel and the threat of Rubashkin fleeing there amounts to anti-Semitism, and said it’s unusual that the law would be mentioned concerning a detention hearing.

Agriprocessors was the site of a May 12 immigration raid in which 389 people were arrested, more than a third of the plant’s workforce. The company and top managers also are accused of violating state and federal laws dealing with child labor, wage requirements and safety rules. The company filed for bankruptcy protection and has been appointed a third-party overseer.

At a November detention hearing for Rubashkin, prosecutors said that after he was arrested on bank fraud charges, agents found about $20,000 in cash and silver coins packed with passports in a travel bag in his bedroom.

His attorneys said Rubashkin kept the cash, passports and birth certificates stashed in a travel bag because he has a 15-year-old mentally disabled son who might destroy the items if they weren’t secured.

The attorneys argued that since the raid and the plant’s ensuing financial trouble, Rubashkin has used the cash to pay bills. As evidence, they showed a $1,700 receipt for a bill to the Ford Motor Co., paid in cash.

Scoles focused on the travel bag and bills in his denial, saying Rubashkin is being detained primarily because the agents found the money belt and cash in a travel bag.

“Defendant’s proffer that the money was needed for household expenses is simply not credible,” Scoles wrote in the denial. “It is noteworthy that the cash and documents were not found in two lock boxes, which were open and empty in Defendant’s closet, but rather were found in a travel bag in the same closet.”

Cook said Scoles misinterpreted the motion asking for Rubashkin’s release, and said another New Yorker — alleged Ponzi scheme mastermind Bernard Madoff — is free on bail while his client is in jail.

“There’s no violent crime, no serious risk,” Cook said. “The man has 10 children. His family is in Postville.”