Government releases Agriprocessors material witnesses
By Trish Mehaffey • Gazette
The 24 undocumented former Agriprocessors workers designated as material witnesses in criminal cases will be released, according to a motion filed today in U.S. District Court.
These workers were set to be deported after accepting plea agreements, but they received deferred action, so they could be material witnesses in the immigration cases against Agriprocessors and its former vice president Sholom Rubashkin, according to the motion.
The immigration charges against Rubashkin, 50, of Postville, were dropped last week after he was convicted of 86 counts of bank fraud and other charges.
According to the motion, the government retains the option of presenting any and all prior statements and testimony from these witnesses during Rubashkin’s sentencing.
The eight workers designated as material witnesses for the immigration and document fraud trial of former Agriprocessors supervisor Brent Beebe will not be released. Beebe’s trial is set for Jan. 19.
According to the motion, these witnesses were provided with employment authorizations to lawfully work and were released from electronic monitoring in February. The motion wasn’t clear if all the immigrants would be deported or when.
U.S. Attorney Stephanie Rose and didn’t return a phone message today.
Tim Counts, spokesman for Immigration Customs and Enforcement, said their fate depends on their status prior to being a witness. If they were set for deportation before, then they will revert back to that status, unless they have appealed and haven’t gone through the immigration court process.