Judge again denies bail to Agriprocessors' ex-leader
BY TONY LEYS
Former Agriprocessors leader Sholom Rubashkin will remain in jail, despite allegations that a judge’s refusal to grant bail amounts to discrimination against him because he is Jewish.
Rubashkin, the former top executive at the Postville meatpacking plant, has been held since Nov. 14. He faces federal charges of bank fraud and conspiracy to hire undocumented workers at the plant, the site of an immigration raid in May.
Prosecutors have successfully argued against bail in the case, saying they fear Rubashkin would flee the country. Their arguments have included references to Israel's "Law of Return," which allows Jews from around the world to become Israeli citizens.
Defense lawyers contend the government claim amounts to discrimination against all Jews, and the controversy has brought national attention in the Jewish press and the Wall Street Journal.
Magistrate Judge Jon Scoles ruled Monday that Rubashkin must remain jailed. He wrote that the “Law of Return” issue is a minor part of the reason. “Defendant attaches too much significance to that single reference,” the judge wrote.
Scoles noted that law officers who arrested Rubashkin found a travel bag containing thousands of dollars in cash, his birth certificate and his children’s passports. That discovery strengthened their suspicions that he might have been preparing to flee, Scoles wrote. He added that at least one other former Agriprocessors manager is believed to have fled to Israel through Canada.
Scoles was unswayed by Rubashkin’s offer to hire a private security company to keep him under house arrest. He said that offer did not represent “new information,” which would lead to a new bail hearing.
Defense lawyers said their client would agree to numerous safeguards, including an electronic tracking bracelet and millions of dollars in bond money. They also said Israel has a strong extradition treaty with the United States.
Rubashkin’s lawyers had hoped to win his release by Hanukkah, which began Sunday night. They said they would appeal Scoles’ ruling.
You'll see the judge's main point, that the Law of Return is a small part of the reasons not to allow Rubashkin bail, is clear from his original ruling and from subsequent documents filed by the prosecution.