Judge refuses to delay trial for Rubashkin
BY GRANT SCHULTE • Des Moines Register
The federal trial of Sholom Rubashkin and three managers at a Postville slaughterhouse will proceed as scheduled despite protests from defense lawyers, a judge ruled Thursday.
All four men and the plant itself are scheduled for trial on Sept. 15 in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids. Judge Linda Reade denied a request by several lawyers to postpone the trial, in light of a seventh revised indictment filed against the men earlier this month.
The slaughterhouse, Agriprocessors Inc., was the site of a major immigration raid in May 2008 that led to the arrest of 389 immigrant workers. Prosecutors later charged Rubashkin and several other plant managers.
Defense lawyers Jim Clarity and Guy Cook said they likely will ask Reade to reconsider her ruling.
Cook said the number of times prosecutors have revised their charges — seven — was unprecedented. He also said defense lawyers need more time to review new evidence disclosed by prosecutors.
"What are they doing here?" Cook said.
The 163-count indictment names Rubashkin, Agriprocessors Inc. and managers Zeev Levi, Brent Beebe and Hosam Amara as defendants. Their charges include immigrant harboring, and various forms of mail, wire and bank fraud.
Defense lawyers said the new indictment, which adds mail- and wire-fraud charges, gives them too little time to prepare for trial and could change their legal strategy.
Lawyers also took issue with the new information disclosed by prosecutors, including loan documents and two secretly recorded conversations with Amara, who is now a federal fugitive. Prosecutors said the failure to disclose the evidence right away was a mistake.
Prosecutors hinted in court papers that Amara, who spoke with a U.S. immigration agent in March, shared information that incriminates Rubashkin.
Defense lawyer Cook, who represents Rubashkin, said the interview contains information favorable to Rubashkin.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office did not immediately return a phone message.