Former Iowa meatpacker manager wants trial moved to Minneapolis or Chicago
By Amy Lorentzen, AP
DES MOINES, Iowa — The former manager of a kosher meatpacking plant wants his federal trial moved because of pretrial publicity.
In a motion filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids, Sholom Rubashkin asks that his trial be moved from Cedar Rapids to Minneapolis or Chicago.
Rubashkin, the former manager of the Agriprocessors Inc. plant in Postville, faces multiple immigration charges, along with bank-fraud and money-laundering charges. He was first arrested in November.
Rubashkin's lawyer said media reports mistakenly labeled Rubashkin as the plant's chief executive officer. In court records, lawyer Guy Cook said Rubashkin never had "the type of control the pretrial publicity suggests."
"The pretrial publicity has left the impression that Defendant Rubashkin was the former-CEO of Agriprocessors and the mastermind behind all the bad that befell Agriprocessors employees, Agriprocessors finances and the town of Postville," the motion said.
On Wednesday, Rubashkin was released from the Dubuque County jail after a judge agreed to set bail at $500,000. In addition to bail, he must wear an electronic monitoring device.
Charges against Rubashkin and others followed a May 12 immigration raid at the plant, at that time the nation's largest kosher slaughterhouse, that resulted in the arrest of 389 people.
Besides the federal charges against Rubashkin, Agriprocessors and top managers have been accused of violating state and federal laws dealing with child labor, wage requirements and safety rules. The company also has filed for bankruptcy protection.
The ruling earlier this week by U.S. District Chief Judge Linda Reade to release Rubashkin overturns an earlier decision by Magistrate Jon Scoles, who ruled that Rubashkin was a flight risk.
In court records seeking a change of venue, Rubashkin's attorney argued that the "immediate and long-standing publicity" generated by the May immigration raid at the plant "has essentially focused on one man — Defendant Sholom Rubashkin."
"Even where the pretrial publicity does not place blame on Defendant Rubashkin, the continued publicity and the correlation of the Defendant with Agriprocessors has left observers and potential jurors to conclude he is at fault for the ills facing the company and the community," the motion said.