JUST IN: Rubashkin Still Awaiting Federal Bail Decision
By Dave Franzman, Reporter
By Shannon Booth
CEDAR RAPIDS - A former executive at Postville's Agriprocessors plant will need to wait until at least Tuesday to find out if he can leave jail.
Sholom Rubashkin faces charges of harboring illegal immigrants, document fraud, bank fraud and identity theft. The 58-year-old man was ordered jailed pending his federal trial because of fears he might flee the country.
Rubashkin's attorneys have argued much of the evidence used to order the defendant detained was based on incorrect information or interpretation.
During earlier hearings, federal agents described finding thousands of dollars in several places in the home along with travel-type documents.
In a bail hearing Monday morning, before federal judge Linda Reade, Rubashkin wife, Leah, tried to describe the reason for large amounts of cash in the home. Leah Rubashkin said the family has always kept large amounts of cash for various reasons, but it was not an indication her husband was getting ready to flee the country.
Rubashkin's lawyers also introduced 299 letters of support from members of the Postville community and others who know Rubashkin. Those letters told the judge they believed the ex-Agriprocessor's official was a good risk to remain in Postville while awaiting his federal trial.
The judge had to halt Monday's proceedings before all witnesses had testified. That was because the judge was involved in another federal trial ready to begin.
Defense attorneys and the government will return Tuesday morning to resume the hearing. And the judge has promised a speedy hearing as to whether or not she'll grant bail conditions for Sholom Rubashkin.
Update 1:00 pm – The Des Moines Register adds:
…Rubashkin’s wife, Leah, testified that
prosecutors exaggerated how much cash was in their Postville house when
agents came to arrest her husband. She said there was a total of
$16,000 to $17,000 in the house, much of which has since been used to
cover her family’s bills. She laughed at suggestions that a canvas tote
bag found in the master-bedroom closet belonged to her husband. “He
would not be caught dead with that blue bag,” she said.
Prosecutors have said the bag contained money and important family papers, suggesting the Rubashkins might have been about to flee. Leah Rubashkin said the bag was hers, and she used it to temporarily hold random items that their autistic son might have tried to get into if she’d left them in their usual spot in a dresser.
As Leah Rubashkin spoke, her husband sat nearby, dressed in jail-issue orange clothing and flip-flops. Throughout the hearing, authorities kept him tightly chained, with shackles around his ankles, plus handcuffs that were hooked into to a chain around his waist. He did not testify, though he spoke softly to his three lawyers and struggled to raise his hands far enough to write notes to them.
Leah Rubashkin said her husband is a devoted father to their 10 children, especially their 15-year-old son, Moishe, who has autism. She also said they plan to stay in Postville, even though her husband no longer has a role in Agriprocessors, which is bankrupt and seeking a new owner.
Prosecutors noted that two other former Agriprocessors managers are believed to have fled to Israel instead of facing charges in the United States. One of them has repeatedly contacted people in northeast Iowa, an FBI agent testified, though the agent acknowledged that he has no evidence that the man has contacted the Rubashkins.
Government witnesses also presented extensive evidence of Rubashkin’s alleged fraud against the company’s main lender. They said he shifted millions of dollars around in ways that allowed Agriprocessors to borrow more than it was entitled to.
The government contends that Rubashkin should not be released from jail because he is too much of a flight risk. The defense notes that family friends and relatives have offered to put up their homes and other assets to raise millions of dollars in bail money, and they have offered to hire a security company to keep Rubashkin in his home if he is released on bail.
Judge Reade said she hoped to conclude the hearing Tuesday morning. When asked after today’s proceedings if they were optimistic, Rubashkin’s family members nodded their heads.
“We’re always optimistic,” said his son Getzel.
Leah Rubashkin smiled. “We were born optimistic,” she said.
Update 1:45 PM – The Gazette adds:
…Leah Rubaskin, 36 [sic], of Postville, testified in U.S. District Court that
the estimated $20,000 found in a tote bag and waist travel pouch was
removed from dresser drawers to prevent their son, Moishe, 15, from
The government has fought bail for Rubashkin, saying he is a flight risk. Agents searched his home after his arrest and found cash, passports and Social Security cards of his family members in tote bag.
Leah Rubashkin said Moishe is an autistic child with communication and mental challenges. He likes to go through drawers looking for pictures and she decided to move the household cash from the dresser into a tote bag that was in the closet.
The turquoise tote bag isn't her husband's, Leah Rubashkin said. "He wouldn't be caught dead with it. I don't even think he would recognize it." The waist travel pouch and a large envelope, both which contained cash, were put into the bag for the same reason.
She argued with Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan, saying the total amount of cash in the bag was closer to $16,000 or $17,000. She said they always kept cash in the house, especially now because they were worried about meeting monthly expenses.
Leah Rubashkin said her family isn't receiving money from Agriprocessors and the cash found was used to pay monthly expenses. There is a committee of rabbis in New York who are paying for Rubashkin's legal fees. The money is from donations made to the family and is controlled by the committee.
Randy VanGend, special agent with Federal Bureau of Investigation, testified about the bank fraud and money laundering scheme included in the 99-count indictment against Rubashkin. Rubashkin allegedly diverted customer payments on accounts receivable. The more than $26 million in customer payments were part of First Bank Business Capital's collateral for a $35 million loan. Those funds were diverted into different company bank accounts rather than into a depository account, which is required by the loan agreement.
Rubashkin also transferred funds to Kosher Community Grocery Inc. and Torah Education Program of Northeast Iowa, both in Postville, VanGend said. About $10.6 and $10.7 million were run through those businesses during 2007 to 2008.
The fourth superseding 99-count indictment against Rubashkin includes harboring and aiding and abetting illegal workers, document fraud, identity theft, unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, bank fraud and money laundering.